This hole usually closes naturally when the baby is born. However, about 25 percent of the time, it does not close and becomes known as a Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO). Most people do not experience any symptoms with a PFO and grow up without knowing they have one. However, in some instances, a PFO may contribute to a stroke or a heart attack.
Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital is the first in Fort Bend County to offer the minimally invasive PFO closure procedure to prevent recurrent strokes and heart attacks.
“Most people with PFO go through life and never have a problem,” says Dr. B. Keith Ellis, a board-certified interventional cardiologist and fellowship-trained, PFO closure expert at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital. “But there’s a subset of people in the population that may have a stroke and we cannot find the cause, otherwise known as a cryptogenic stroke. There is an increased incidence of PFO in patients with cryptogenic stroke. Some of our patients that have had multiple cryptogenic strokes and have failed medical therapy may be candidates for closure of PFO.”
As an alternative to open heart surgery, PFO closure is relatively painless and does not require surgical incisions. During the procedure, a catheter is used to guide the placement of the PFO closure device, which resembles a tiny umbrella, which becomes a permanent implant that closes the hole in the patient’s heart wall. Patients are able to go home one day after the procedure and can go back to work and everyday activities in three to five days.
“The procedure was painless,” says Errol Lewis, a patient of Dr. Ellis’, who recently had a successful PFO closure procedure at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital. “My shortness of breath and other symptoms related to my stroke have improved.”
To make an appointment with Dr. Ellis or another cardiologist with Methodist Diagnostic Cardiology of Houston, call 713.776.9500