What We Do

Holes in the heart can be present from birth and may allow a blood clot from the right atrium to go to the left atrium, and then through your circulation system to the brain. This causes a mini-stroke or Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA).

PFO Septal Occluders are a double disc design that is made of surgical grade Dacron and a metal alloy. We insert the occluder through a tube in your leg and then place the occluder in your heart to close the hole.​

 Materials and Resources to Help You

The Patient & Family Education Program at UHN offers valuable resources to help you understand your condition.

Resources from the Patient & Family Education Program

Visit our Health Information section to find dedicated resources to help you understand your condition. Find the information you're looking for.​

 Your Procedure

We will do a special echocardiogram called a Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE), to determine if the Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) is suitable for this kind of closure. After the results are available, you'll meet with the doctor for a review of the procedure and be able to ask questions. We will talk to you about the potential risks and alternatives.

If you decide to go ahead, we'll give you an appointment for the procedure and book you to attend the Pre-Admission Cardiology Clinic. Here you will meet one of our nurses and have blood work done to prepare you.

How to Prepare

Please do not eat or drink anything for 6 to 8 hours before your PFO Closure.

Please bring with you a list of your current medications. This includes prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, vitamin or mineral supplements and herbal remedies.

A friend or family member is required to be present in the lab during the procedure. You will be sedated during this procedure. The friend or family member will be instructed on how to care for you after the procedure and be required to drive and/or accompany you home. They can also help you gather information, take notes and ask questions.

Checking In

Your procedure will be done in the Cardiovascular Investigations Unit but you will be admitted to the Cardiac Short Stay Unit on the 5th Floor Munk Building on the morning of your procedure.

When you arrive at the Cardiac Short Stay Unit, check in at the reception desk. Please have the following ready:

  • Health card (OHIP card). If you do not have an OHIP card, please bring another form of government-issued photo ID (such as a driver's license, passport, or other provincial health card). Please arrive 15 minutes before your appointment.
  • Your name, address and birth date

Your procedure will be done shortly after you arrive. Your doctor will see you at that time.

Before the PFO Closure

When you check-in, the receptionist will give you a name band to wear. You will be assigned a room to wait and asked to change into a hospital gown. Your family should keep your valuables with them.

A nurse will prepare you for the procedure by reviewing a checklist, starting an IV and confirming your medications.

When it's time for your procedure an attendant will take you down to the Cardiovascular Investigations Unit.

During and After the PFO Closure

We do your procedure under local anesthetic in the groin area. You'll be given a sedative and painkiller intravenously to keep you relaxed and comfortable. Then we put a small catheter or tube into your vein at the groin site. It goes through the right atrium, and then through the hole to reach the left atrium.

The occluder is attached and folded so that it fits within the tube. The folded occluder is passed through the tube until it goes through the defect. One disc is opened on the left atrial side of the defect, and the other disc is opened on the right atrial side. This completely covers the hole like a patch, with the central stem joining the two discs passing through the small hole.

Following the PFO Closure

After you're awake, the doctor will discuss the outcome of the procedure with you. We'll tell your family when it's done, and they can see you after the procedure is over. You'll be discharged about 6 hours later.

Follow-up after Discharge

You will be scheduled for a follow-up appointment 8 - 12 weeks after your procedure. Your appointment will be in the Adult Congenital Cardiac Clinic. After that, your own cardiologist can follow you. Routine Electrocardiogram and surface echocardiogram will be done from time to time as part of your follow-up.

How to Prepare

The procedure usually takes 30 minutes. You are then returned to your room.

We do everything that we can to stay on time. Unfortunately, your procedure may be delayed by unforeseen circumstances. We recommend that you come prepared for delays.​

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