Patent Foramen Ovale Treatments

PFO treatments decrease the risk of stroke. The main treatment options include:

  • Medication such as anticoagulants (blood thinners). They thin the blood to prevent blood clots.
  • Minimally invasive catheter-based procedures to close the PFO.

Catheter-based procedure for PFO closure

People who do not respond to medication may need a minimally invasive, catheter-based procedure. Your interventional cardiologist closes the PFO with a small closure device. This is done in a cardiac catheterization (cath) laboratory.

During a PFO closure procedure, your physician inserts a flexible catheter or tiny tube into your body. They advance the catheter to your heart. There, your physician moves the catheter through the PFO. Next, they open and place the closure device. The closure device looks like two tiny umbrellas on either side of the PFO, blocking blood from passing through the PFO. The closure device will stay in your heart. The catheter will be removed. Over time, tissue grows in and around the closure device. This seals the PFO.

A catheter-based procedure is less invasive than surgery. Your physician does minimally invasive, catheter-based procedures while your heart is beating. This takes away the need for a “heart bypass” machine and its risks. Patients treated with catheter-based procedures tend to heal quickly, within weeks compared to months. Their symptoms also improve much sooner. Traditional open-heart surgery is not often used for patients with PFO.

Scientists are studying if implanted closure devices work better than medications to reduce the risk of recurrent stroke in patients who have had a stroke or TIA.