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How is a patent foramen ovale (PFO) closed using a catheter-based procedure?

A catheter can also be used to guide the placement of a patent foramen ovale closure device - which becomes a permanent implant - that will close the hole (prevent the flaps from opening) in the heart wall. The catheter is initially inserted into a large vein through a small incision made usually in the inner thigh (groin area). The catheter is slowly moved into the heart and the PFO closure device is moved through the catheter to the heart and specifically to the location of the heart wall defect.

Once in the correct location, the PFO closure device is allowed to expand its shape to straddle each side of the hole. The device will remain in the heart permanently to stop the abnormal flow of blood between the two atria chambers of the heart. The catheter is then removed and the procedure is complete. The cardiac catheterization procedure for a PFO closure typically takes 2 to 4 hours to complete. A local anesthetic is used to numb the groin area where the catheter was inserted. Use of general anesthesia or sedation by IV is situation dependent — depending on doctor preference and particular patient needs.