Patent Foramen Ovale

Also known as: PFO.

What is patent foramen ovale?

A PFO is a hole in the tissue (atrial septum) that separates the heart's two upper chambers, (right atrium and left atrium). It's present in all babies before birth, and the opening allows oxygenated blood from the mother's placenta to bypass the baby’s non-functioning lungs and send oxygen to the baby's growing body. Typically (in 75%) it closes after a baby is born and breathes. When it doesn’t close, the persistently open hole is called a PFO.

What causes patent foramen ovale?
Researchers aren’t exactly clear why PFO occurs, however genetics may play a role.

What are the symptoms of patent foramen ovale? 
In most infants, a patent foramen ovale doesn’t cause any symptoms unless it occurs with other heart defects.

What are patent foramen ovale care options? 
A Patent foramen ovale that is present by itself does not require treatment. If symptomatic (or if there are other heart defects), it may be sealed with a device delivered through a vein in the groin or closed with surgery. 

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 6/12/2018 1:50:21 PM

From the Newsdesk

Renowned Congenital Heart Surgeon, Dr. Kristine J. Guleserian, Honored with the 2018 AGBU New England District’s Global Excellence Award
06/19/2018 — Renowned congenital heart surgeon, Dr. Kristine J. Guleserian of the Nicklaus Children’s Heart Program was honored with the 2018 AGBU New England District’s Global Excellence Award for her achievements and work in congenital heart surgery and heart transplantation in Dallas, Miami and throughout the world.
June Patient of the Month: Victoria
06/01/2018 — Meet Victoria, our June Patient of the Month! Before birth, Victoria, was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS). While Victoria's mother was pregnant with her, the left side of her heart did not form correctly, causing an urgent need for surgery just after birth to help restore its function, or Victoria would die. Fast-forward to today, and Victoria, now a teenager, is leading a healthy life with her family in South Florida. She enjoys music and playing basketball with her siblings.

Video

video
Dr. Kristine Guleserian, congenital heart surgeon, with the Heart Program at Nicklaus Children's Hospital discusses minimally invasive approaches to pediatric heart surgery.