Congenital Heart Defect – PFO

Congenital Heart Defect - PFO
Congenital Heart Defect - PFO

Overview Of Congenital Heart Defect – PFO

Congenital Heart Defect – PFO is a hole between the left and right atria (upper chambers) of the heart. This hole exists in everyone before birth, but most often closes shortly after being born. PFO is what the hole is called when it fails to close naturally after a baby is born.

Commonly Associated With

PFO; Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO)

Causes Of Congenital Heart Defect – PFO

A foramen ovale allows blood to go around the lungs. A baby’s lungs are not used when it grows in the womb, so the hole does not cause problems in an unborn infant.

The opening is supposed to close soon after birth, but sometimes it does not. In about 1 out of 4 people, the opening never closes. If it does not close, it is called a PFO.

The cause of a PFO is unknown. There are no known risk factors. It can be found along with other heart abnormalities such as atrial septal aneurysms or Chiari network.

Symptoms Of Congenital Heart Defect – PFO

Infants with a PFO and no other heart defects do not have symptoms. Some adults with PFOs also suffer from migraine headaches.

Exams & Tests

An echocardiogram can be done to diagnose a PFO. If the PFO is not easily seen, a cardiologist can perform a “bubble test.” Saline solution (salt water) is injected into the body as the cardiologist watches the heart on an ultrasound (echocardiogram) monitor. If a PFO exists, tiny air bubbles will be seen moving from the right to left side of the heart.

Treatment Of Congenital Heart Defect – PFO

This condition is not treated unless there are other heart problems, symptoms, or if the person had a stroke caused by a blood clot to the brain.

Treatment most often requires a procedure called cardiac catheterization, which is performed by a trained cardiologist to permanently seal the PFO. Open heart surgery is no longer used to treat this condition unless another surgery is being performed.