Objectives: We report the largest and the longest follow-up to date of patients who underwent transcatheter patent foramen ovale (PFO) closure for paradoxical embolism.
Background: Closure of a PFO has been proposed as an alternative to anticoagulation in patients with presumed paradoxical emboli.
Methods: Data were collected for patients following PFO closure with the Clamshell, CardioSEAL or Buttoned Devices at two institutions.
Results: There were 63 patients (46 +/- 18 years) with a follow-up of 2.6 +/- 2.4 years. Fifty-four (86%) had effective closure of the foramen ovale (trivial or no residual shunt by echocardiography) while seven (11%) had mild and two (3%) had moderate residual shunting. There were four deaths (leukemia, pulmonary embolism, sepsis following a hip fracture and lung cancer). There were four recurrent embolic neurological events following device placement: one stroke and three transient events. The stroke occurred in a 56-year-old patient six months following device placement. A follow-up transesophageal echocardiogram showed a well seated device without residual shunting. Two of the four events were associated with suboptimal device performance (one patient had a significant residual shunt and a second patient had a "friction lesion" in the left atrial wall associated with a displaced fractured device arm). The risk of recurrent stroke or transient neurological event following device placement was 3.2% per year for all patients.
Conclusion: Transcatheter closure of PFO is an alternative therapy for paradoxical emboli in selected patients. Improved device performance may reduce the risk of recurrent neurological events. Further studies are needed to identify patients most likely to benefit from this intervention.