The PFO anatomy evaluation as possible tool to stratify the associated risks and the benefits arising from the closure

Eur J Echocardiogr. 2010 Jul;11(6):488-91. doi: 10.1093/ejechocard/jeq003. Epub 2010 Feb 10.


Aims: According to the current guidelines, the patent foramen ovale (PFO) is still considered a qualitative factor and, as a consequence, its closure is recommended just on the basis of its 'presence'.

Methods and results: In the year 2008, we evaluated 25 patients (mean age 62.7) with acute cerebrovascular event and 92 patients (mean age 27.3) suffering from migraine with aura. No PFO was reported in 79 patients. A venous-to-arterial circulation shunt had been shown in 38 patients (29 subjects with migraine and 9 subjects with prior stroke). According to the number of microbubbles arrived during the Valsava manoeuvre, we found: 25 small PFO, 6 moderate PFO, and 6 severe PFO. In the baseline population with migraine (n = 92), 32% (n = 29) had a PFO. A 'large' foramen was reported in approximately 9% of the migraine subjects. In the population with prior stroke (n=25), 9 patients (36%) had a PFO. A 'large' foramen was reported in 45% of the patients with ischaemic stroke. We found embryonic recesses in 13% (n = 4) of the patients with migraine and PFO (n=29) vs. 66% (n=6) of the patients with ischaemic stroke and PFO (P= 0.01).

Conclusion: It is possible to suppose that not all PFO have the same prognostic value. The evaluation of two anatomical characteristics can allow to identify those foramina at higher risk and, as a consequence, the patients who could have a major benefit from the closure.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Ischemia / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain Ischemia / epidemiology
  • Brain Ischemia / pathology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Echocardiography
  • Female
  • Foramen Ovale, Patent / diagnostic imaging
  • Foramen Ovale, Patent / pathology*
  • Foramen Ovale, Patent / surgery
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine with Aura / diagnostic imaging
  • Migraine with Aura / epidemiology
  • Migraine with Aura / pathology*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Risk Factors
  • Valsalva Maneuver