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Lehigh Valley Children's Hospital

Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO, hole in heart)

Patent foramen ovale (PFO) describes a hole in the upper chambers of the heart that is present at birth – a congenital heart defect. The Structural Heart Disease Program at Lehigh Valley Heart Institute provides high-quality care for people with PFO.

Patent foramen ovale (PFO) is an opening between the left and right atria – the upper chambers of the heart – that failed to close after birth. A PFO can increase a person’s risk for stroke.

Treatment for patent foramen ovale

  • Percutaneous PFO closure: A thin, flexible tube (catheter) is inserted into an artery through a small incision in the groin. Once at the location of the hole in the heart, an umbrella-like device in the catheter is slowly pushed out to cover the hole. Over time, heart tissue grows over the implant.
  • PFO surgical repair: During this open-heart surgery, a surgeon stitches shut the hole in the heart. A patch also may be used to cover the hole. Heart tissue will grow over the patch and make it a permanent part of the heart.

Our surgeons work closely with your physician to plan your care step-by-step, making sure you are part of each decision.

Follow-up care after treatment for PFO

After PFO closure, the team at Lehigh Valley Heart Institute is here to help you recover. Rehabilitation is an important part of your recovery. You will benefit from an individualized program of supervised exercise and health education that focuses on lifestyle changes.

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