|Percutaneous Closure of a Patent Foramen Ovale
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a new procedure known as transcatheter septal closure involves inserting an umbrella
shaped device by way of the catheter to close the remnants of the communication
between the upper two heart chambers. The defect known as a patent foramen ovale
or PFO is generally inconsequential and may be present in as much as 15 percent
of the population. However, in approximately one in a thousand individuals it
may be associated with a stroke at an early age. Theoretically a clot arising
on the venous side of the circulation could gain access to the arterial circulation
through this defect. The risk of an additional stroke in a patient with a PFO
and a previous stroke is approximately four percent per year.
Several new devices are currently available to treat these defects without a traditional heart operation. The device is shaped like two miniature umbrellas and is delivered to the heart by way of the catheter inserted through the groin. The proper position is confirmed by fluoroscopy (x-ray picture) and with transesophageal echocardiography (ultrasound probe in the esophagus). When the device is opened a seal is formed closing the communication between the right and left atria.