Surgical Closure of Patent Foramen Ovale for Stroke Prevention: Vancouver General Hospital Experience
Background and Purpose Patent foramen ovale (PFO) is implicated as a potential cause of stroke, particularly in young patients with otherwise cryptogenic events. The natural history, risk of stroke recurrence and optimal secondary stroke prevention remains uncertain. Therapeutic options include long-term antiplatelet therapy, anti-coagulation therapy, and PFO closure by surgery or device. We report the results of 53 patients treated with surgical closure. Methods and Materials We have followed 53 consecutive surgically treated patients (23 men and 30 female). All patients were evaluated by a stroke neurologist, a cardiologist with expertise in adult congenital disease and a cardiovascular surgeon. Patients who met the following criteria were included: 1) embolic TIA or stroke, 2) PFO or PFO and atrial septal aneurysm (ASA), 3) investigations included cerebral angiography, transesophageal echocardiography, and hypercoagulable studies, 4) presumptive clinical diagnosis of paradoxical embolism with no other etiology detected. Follow up was obtained by clinic visit and standardized telephone questionnaire. Results Prior to surgery 27 patients had stroke and 26 had TIAs; 12 had multiple cerebrovascular events. The mean age at symptom onset was 41.8 ± 9.3 yrs (range 19 to 59). 22 patients had an isolated PFO and 31 had both a PFO and an ASA. Average PFO size measured at surgery was 8.8 ± 7.7 mm. 40 were treated with primary closure, 13 with suture and patch closure. Average post-surgical hospital stay was 4 days. There was no surgical mortality or major morbidity. Minor perioperative morbidity occurred in 13 patients. Average follow up postsurgery was 22.2 ± 17.4 months (range 0.7 to 90.8 months). There were no recurrent strokes and 1 recurrent TIA. Conclusions Surgical closure of PFO can be safely performed with low morbidity and mortality. In this group of carefully selected patients, there have been no recurrent strokes. Further studies are necessary to define high-risk patients for recurrent stroke who may benefit from surgical closure.