What is a PFO?
Before birth, a baby’s heart will have a hole with a flap-like covering between the upper two chambers of the heart. This opening, called a foramen ovale, allows oxygen-rich blood from the mother to bypass the baby’s lungs, which do not function until the baby is born. After birth, the flap-like covering typically closes the hole permanently, but in about one out of every four people, the hole will remain open. This is called a PFO, or a patent foramen ovale. From time to time, a PFO may permit blood to pass from the right side of the heart to the left side, bypassing the normal route, which passes through the lungs first.
What is PFO closure?
In most people, a PFO does not create any symptoms that require treatment. However, for some, a PFO may lead to medical issues. The RELIEF Study is designed to study the effect of PFO closure for a reduction in migraine headaches in certain patients suffering from recurring migraine.
PFO closure involves the placement of a permanent implant into the heart without the need for open-heart surgery. A catheter, or hollow tube, is inserted into a blood vessel through a small incision, usually located in the right groin area. The catheter is then moved forward until it reaches the heart. The implant passes through the catheter and into the heart, where it is positioned to close the PFO.
This procedure typically takes one to two hours to complete. Typically, patients are either discharged the same day or may be observed overnight and discharged the next day. To view an animation of the PFO closure procedure please click here
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