Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO)

In most cases, treatment for patent foramen ovale is not necessary. But if needed, you'll have access to groundbreaking treatments before they're widely available.
In most cases, treatment for patent foramen ovale is not necessary. But if needed, you'll have access to groundbreaking treatments before they're widely available.
In most cases, treatment for patent foramen ovale is not necessary. But if needed, you'll have access to groundbreaking treatments before they're widely available.

Patent foramen ovale (PFO) is an opening in the upper chambers of the heart due to a flap of tissue that failed to close normally after a baby is born. There is no known cause, and there are usually no symptoms associated with PFO.

Treatment is not necessary in most PFO cases. Babies born with PFO and no other heart conditions are not considered to have an abnormal heart condition. Older adults with PFOs may have a higher risk of a certain type of stroke called a paradoxical thromboembolic stroke.

Patent Foramen Ovale Treatment at Rush

An imaging test called an echocardiogram can be used to diagnose a PFO.

The condition, however, doesn't require treatment unless you have other heart problems or recurrent, unexplained strokes. If you've had a stroke and you have a PFO, Rush is one of only a few health systems in the U.S. conducting research on closing such defects.

If you need treatment, a highly trained heart expert at Rush will likely close the PFO using a procedure called cardiac catheterization.

Catheterization avoids the need for the chest to be opened. A thin, flexible tube called a catheter is threaded to the heart through a blood vessel in the arm, upper thigh or neck.

Rush Excellence in Patent Foramen Ovale Care

  • Center of excellence: Rush University Medical Center is a Center of Excellence for PFO closure procedures, offering the most advanced treatments, including the Amplatzer PFO occluder and Gore Cardioform septal occluder devices. It was also the first hospital in Chicago to offer a new technology called Noble Stitch that enables cardiologists to close a PFO using a single stitch.
  • Among the best in the U.S.: U. S. News & World Report ranked Rush University Medical Center among the best in the nation for cardiology.
  • Children's congenital heart disease expertise: Pediatric cardiologists at Rush University Children's Hospital specialize in pediatric congenital heart diseases like PFO and offer care at a number of convenient locations in Chicago, Aurora/Fox Valley and other suburbs.
  • Access to the latest treatments and clinical trials: Pediatric cardiologists and interventional cardiologists at Rush are leaders in clinical trials of new therapies for PFO and other congenital heart defects. This means you may have access to treatments before they are widely available.