Atrial septal defects (ASD) and patent foramen ovales (PFO) are holes located in the wall of tissue between the two upper chambers of the heart. An ASD-PFO closure is a procedure used to repair and close these holes to reduce the risk for heart failure and other fatal heart conditions. An ASD-PFO closure can be safely performed at a hospital where you can be closely monitored and treated for potential complications.
What Is an ASD-PFO Closure?
An ASD-PFO closure can be performed using surgery or cardiac catheterization. Surgery can be done as open surgery or as minimally invasive surgery using smaller incisions. During surgery, heart surgeons make one or more incisions in the chest and use patches to close an ASD or PFO.
Cardiac catheterization is another minimally invasive way to close an ASD or PFO. With this procedure, a doctor inserts a long, thin catheter into a large blood vessel in the leg, arm, or groin, and guides it to the heart. A patch or plug is then inserted through the catheter and used to close and seal the hole.
Your doctor will work with you to choose the best method for ASD-PFO closure based on your general health and heart condition.
Who Needs an ASD-PFO Closure, When Do They Need It, and Why?
Many people who have an ASD or PFO don’t experience symptoms and may not know their condition exists. Over time, an ASD or PFO can lead to serious heart and lung damage when it becomes problematic and is left untreated. People who may need an ASD-PFO closure are those who begin experiencing symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, heart murmur, stroke, and swelling of the abdomen, legs, or feet.
Which Tests Do You Need Before an ASD-PFO Closure?
Before you have an ASD-PFO closure, your doctor may order a series of tests to confirm you need this treatment. Tests may include a chest X-ray, echocardiogram, electrocardiogram, MRI, CT scan, and cardiac catheterization. Cardiac catheterization can be used to diagnose and treat certain heart conditions like an ASD or PFO.
Which Tests Do You Need After an ASD-PFO Closure?
After an ASD-PFO closure, your doctor may perform routine echocardiograms to confirm the hole stays closed. An echocardiogram is the most common way to diagnose an ASD and uses sound waves to produce a video image of your heart. This test allows your doctor to examine your heart and its pumping strength and to check for signs of heart defects.
How Do You Prepare for an ASD-PFO Closure?
Your doctor will give you detailed instructions that will help you prepare for your ASD-PFO closure. You may be asked not to eat or drink for several hours before your procedure, and to make a list of all medicines and medications you’re currently using — including vitamins and herbal supplements. Your doctor will also ask you about known allergies to iodine, latex, rubber, and contrast dye.
What Happens During the ASD-PFO Closure Procedure?
Surgery to repair an ASD or PFO is typically performed under general anesthesia. Your doctor will make one long incision in your chest for open surgery, or a series of tiny incisions for minimally invasive surgery. Your surgeon then inserts one or more patches inside an incision to close the hole.
Cardiac catheterization is typically performed under local anesthesia. Your doctor makes a tiny incision on your arm, leg, or groin and inserts a catheter through your skin and into a blood vessel. Then, your doctor uses imaging technology to guide the catheter to your heart and close the hole using a mesh plug or patch. Following the procedure, heart tissue grows around the mesh plug to permanently close and seal the hole.
What Happens After an ASD-PFO Closure?
After an ASD-PFO closure, you will visit your doctor regularly to confirm the hole stays closed. Follow-up exams usually take place once every year and often include an echocardiogram test.
CareCube offers primary care and cardiovascular services designed to help you maintain good heart health. Contact us today to request an appointment and begin the treatment process.