The medical procedure to close a patent foramen ovale (PFO) using a device is minimally invasive, meaning it has far less of an impact on the body than surgery would have. It won’t leave a scar, nor will it require extensive cardiac rehabilitation, as might be expected of someone who had undergone open-heart surgery, for example. At the same time, however, it’s important to remember it’s still a medical procedure involving the heart; therefore, your doctor will want to make sure you are not at risk for any ill effects.
Complications from a PFO closure and side effects may include the following:
- Atrial fibrillation (Afib)
- An ischemic stroke as a result of the procedure
- Bleeding from the site where the device is guided into the body
- Blood clots in the leg or lung
- Injury to the heart (rare)
- Development of a clot or an infection on the implanted device (rare)
- Device embolization (movement of the device to an unintended location within the body resulting in an obstruction of an organ or vessel) (rare)
The PFO closure procedure is performed in a hospital, and you’ll be kept for observation and recovery usually overnight. Once your doctor is satisfied with your condition and feels you are in good enough health, you can go home. You'll most commonly be asked to follow up with your cardiologist within two to four weeks after the procedure. And you'll need to take a mild blood thinner such as aspirin and antibiotics before going to the dentist for six months after the procedure.
While PFO closure is a significant step for you as a patient, it is a well-established treatment method. You’ll likely have many questions and concerns about your procedure, and you should feel free to ask your doctor about them in advance. After all, the more you know about the procedure and how it helps, the more comfortable you’ll have it—and the better you’ll understand how it works.