I received some very good information from stroke victims out there about how they went about closing thier PFOs. I fall into the group that has now had it closed surgically. I had a short incision sternotomy one week ago and I am feeling fine today. I will not be back to full physcial activity until 3 months from now, but the closure is permanent and I am off of coumadin with a completely negative bubble study and a perfect echocardiogram.
I was tempted to try mimimally invasive surgery using a robotic system to cut down on the incision but from what I could tell they don't have enough experience with this yet.
I had a mild stroke in April and a PFO was detected after a Transesophageal Echocardiogram. My Neurologist put me on Asasantin (a bloodthinner) and Zocor (for elevated cholesterol). He didn't think it was necessary for me to see a Cardiologist but after repeated nagging from family and friends, I saw a Cardiologist last week. I had a 24hr Holter monitor to check for Atrial Fibrillation which I have yet to get results from. He is awaiting the report from the TOE, I guess to see the size of the hole. My question is, how big does a PFO have to be before it is a) able to be fixed and b) liable to be the cause of the stroke? If it is repaired, does that mean a stop to the thinners? The Cardiologist is wanting to put me on Warfarin (lots of blood tests... no thanks!) but I don't want to be on medication for the rest of my life... I am only 39! Any info would be greatly appreciated.
I had many tests done during my one week stay at the hospital following my stroke. I saw 3 cardiologists and 3 cardiothoracic surgeons. After going over all of my tests one thing that all 6 of them were in agreement with was that they thought my stroke was due to the PFO. I went on coumandin to buy time while I investigated a few options for PFO closure: device closure, sternotomy, or minimally invasive surgery. The device closure was the easiest option to accept surgically but had a number of potential complications and not enough testing to make me comfortable. Minimally invasive surgery (robotic) seemed like the best fit until I investigated the potential risks during operation with cardiothoracic surgeons. The conclusion that I came to after all of my discussions was that sternotomy is currently the safest procedure and has been used for successful PFO closures the most. My surgeon was able to do a minimal incision with a full sternotomy. The operation went great, the PFO is closed permanently, and I am off of coumadin for good. The only drawback is the 5" scar that I have mid-line down my chest. In a few months I plan to see my dermatologist and see what he can do to make this disappear. He is great - I think he is going to work some magic. I am a man and the idea of a scar in this area is probably allot easier to accept than a woman. I spoke to a woman who had a minimally invasive thoracotomy that was done below her breast and she seemed very happy with this. This operation may have a bit of increased risk over sternotomy due to limited exposure however. I hope that my experience here helps you some.
Thanks Paul. Glad to know all went well with you and you are off your medications. If after I see the doctor again he suggests closing the hole, I might contact you again. You seem to have done plenty of homework, which is great! Cheers, Jayne.
Hey Paul, it was decided today between the Cardiologist and Neurologist, that I am to have the PFO closed. I am seeing the surgeon (who will do the procedure) next week but would like to pick your brains first on the options. The Cardiologist I see at the moment says I would have to be on the warfarin for about 6 months after surgery but I know you are off it. He also said I would need to stay on Asasantin (the thinner I'm on now) for the rest of my days. How old are you and what residual damage do you have from your stroke? If you can get back to me that would be great.
Paul, I am having the Amplatzer device implanted on Feb 21. My Cardiologist recommends this to be the most suitable alternative for me. I am continuing to have TIA's left, right and centre so hoping this will spell the end of those for me. Cheers, Jayne.
It has been a while since I checked the board last. It looks like you went ahead and had the PFO closed - yes? Let me know how - did you have surgery or device closure? To answer your question, my stoke was to the occipital lobe of my brain. I have full recovery at this point. If you want to chat please send me a private e-mail with your contact info to
[ please carefully review the posting rules - no emails ] Best wishes.
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I am having an Amplatzer device inserted via the groin in 6 weeks. It seems the least invasive method and as a single mum, I need a quick recovery time. Hope you are doing good and having no further problems.
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I'm new to the board and I'm trying to get some information.
I'm 36 and I had a stroke in August 2003. It was discovered that I had a DVT in my leg from knee surgery and it traveled through my PFO. I had my PFO closed three days latter with the AMplatzer PFO device.
It has been over 5 months and I'm still having residual symptoms such as dizziness and fade outs.
Hello there. I am interested to hear how your PFO closure procedure went. Did you have a General Anaesthetic? I am to have this procedure done under Valium which sounds a bit scary. Did you have it done via the groin? I get bouts of lightheadedness many times a day and was hoping this would stop once I had the PFO closed. Did the procedure prevent you from doing anything for a period??
Lots of questions I know! Hope you are able to answer some for me. Thanks, Jayne.
I did have General Anasthetic for the procedure. I woke up a couple of hours after it was done. I've never heard of it being done with a local like Valium because the surgeon used a scope down my throat to ensure the proper placement of the device.
I did have it inserted through the groin via a catheder tube. I could not move for about two hours after it was done but I was able to go home from the hospital the next day.
I was told to avoid any lifting for the first month and no heavy excersise for three months. I wore a heart monitor for two weeks to make sure everything was working because I was getting lightheaded after the procedure. The doctors said it was the after effects from my stroke, not the PFO.
I did a stress test at the three month mark and everything is perfect. The only other requirement was to take one asprin every day for the first 6 months.
Thanks for your response. Yes, I am having the camera down the throat and it is being done only with Valium as sedation. I had the camera part done 9 months ago the same way, which was how the PFO was detected. I'm kinda glad I'm not having a General as I get so sick with nonstop vomiting... which would make it impossible to stay still for a coupla hours.
I was very interested to see your Dr attributes your lightheadedness to the stroke.... since mine, I have had spells like that many times a day. My Dr had no suggestion as to what was causing it.
Another quick question, how long was it before you were able to have sexual relations? My partner lives in the US and is coming here to Australia for my op. We only see one another once every few months so I was interested whether that was classed as heavy physical activity.
Did you have much bruising in the groin and lastly did you have any pain? I am such a wooz with a very low pain threshold!!
Hi... I am 26 yrs old...female.... I found out a few years ago that I have a PFO/Aneurysm. I have had several opinions and they all say "do nothing at this time". My recent visit to Cleveland Clinic was in Dec. 2004. The doctor there said that I could take baby aspirin if I wanted to...but other than that not to do anything right now. Because I am not having any trouble. My fear is this---- having a stroke at a young age.
Have all of you had strokes??? How old are you????
Did you know you had this problem before having a stroke??
I have done alot of research on this and it says that 25%-30% of the general population have a PFO.
Sorry it took me so long to reply to your last post. I was having computer problems.
I too have been very frustrated by my Doctors inability to pinpoint my lightheadedness. They tell me that if it is not resolve by the 6 month mark, I'm probably going to have to live with it for the rest of my life.
As far as the sexual relationships, my doctors made me wait for 1 month until the area in the groin was healed completly. I did have some bruising, but not really that bad. As far as pain, I have a very high tollerance for pain so I would not be a good gauge on how much it hurt.
I hope that helps.
In response to your questions, Yes I did have a stroke and I was 36 at the time. I was unaware of my PFO problem until after the stroke. They say I'm one of the lucky ones because the doctors found it. I also have seen the research and I found the same.
Like Marbles, I had a stroke at age 38 and had no idea that I had this heart abnormality.
Marbles, thanks for getting back to me. Are you still on thinners? Did your Dr tell you how much having the Amplatzer device reduces the risk of further CVA's? I usually only remember all these questions AFTER I leave the Dr!
Thanks! Hope all is well and your world not spinning too much.