In addition to offering a number of alternatives to open heart surgery, the Structural Heart Program also treats people suffering from heart defects, including ASD and PFO. Although both are holes in the wall of tissue (septum) between the left and right upper chambers of the heart (atria), their causes are quite different.
- PFO, or Patent Foramen Ovale, occurs after birth when a hole in the wall between the left and right atria doesn’t close properly. During pregnancy, this hole allows blood to bypass the lungs, which cannot work until they are exposed to air. When a newborn enters the world and takes its first breath, the foramen ovale usually closes, but for roughly 25 percent of people, the hole remains open. For the vast majority of the millions of people with a PFO, it is not a problem, even though blood is leaking from the right atrium to the left. Problems can arise when that blood contains a blood clot, possibly causing a stroke.
For these people a PFO Occluder may be an option. A PFO Occluder is a device placed into the heart through minimally invasive technique to help close this hole and help prevent the risk of stroke.
- An ASD is a failure of the septal tissue to form between the atria and is considered a congenital heart defect, or something you are born with. Generally, an ASD hole is larger than that of a PFO. To correct this defect, a catheter is inserted into a vein in the leg and a device is slowly pushed out of the catheter allowing each side of the device to open and cover each side of the hole, closing it. When the device is in proper position, it is released from the special catheter. Over time, heart tissue grows over the implant, becoming part of the heart.