The foramen ovale is a channel between the atria of the foetal heart allowing oxygenated blood to bypass the non functioning lungs. When the lungs become functional at birth, the channel usually closes.
The prevalence of a patent foramen ovale (PFO) in the general population is common with studies suggesting that around 25% of adults (range 15 – 32%) have a PFO.
The data from observational studies suggest that this common cardiac anomaly is more prevalent in young (<55 years old) stroke patients in whom nearly 40% of strokes can be described as cryptogenic (stroke with no identified cardioembolic or large vessel source). PFOs have also been implicated as an etiological factor in migraine and Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIAs)
Closure of a PFO is a procedure undertaken via a percutaneous catheter-based delivery system. The closure device is advanced through the catheter and deployed across the PFO. The aim is to reduce the risk of emboli crossing the PFO and causing serious vascular events such as stroke.