Interventional PFO closure

What is a PFO?

[Translate to Englisch:] Blick in ein Herzmodell

The abbreviation PFO stands for 'patent forame ovale'. It is a hole between the two atria of the heart which fails to close. Normally it would do so shortly after birth. But in about one quarter of the population, the hole remains open - and this valve-like aperture in the atrial septum of the heart may later be responsible for the patient suffering a stroke.

Patients who suffer from a cryptogenic stroke, i.e. one with no treatable cause, are also more likely to have a PFO than people of the same age who have never had a stroke. 

Catheter-based umbrella implantation can be of assistance.


Here at the Heart Center Leipzig, we have a long record of successfully performing catheter-based umbrella implantation to close a PFO. Here, you will be treated by internationally recognized experts in the field, who are very familiar with the technique. The treatment is minimally invasive and therefore requires only a minor incision, with a correspondingly low impact on the body. You are given a local anesthetic, and in a best-case scenario, the procedure will have been completed within just about half an hour. .

Many strokes (up to 30%) are caused when blood clots (thrombi) from the heart migrate to one of the arteries leading to your brain. If you suffer from atrial fibrillation, there is an even greater risk that blood clots will form.

The majority of these clots originate in the atrial auricle, a pouch-like structure directly adjacent to the left atrium of the heart. Catheter-based umbrella implantation is performed to prevent such blood clots from reaching the body's circulatory system by closing the PFO. This can vastly reduce the risk of embolic blockages and strokes.

  • The opening in the atrial septum (PFO) is closed with a so-called 'umbrella', a Nitinol mesh implant.
  • First we conduct a wide range of diagnostic tests such as ultrasound of the carotid artery, TEE and Holter monitoring, in order to rule out other frequent causes of a stroke.
  • The entire procedure is performed under light sedation.
  • We determine what size of umbrella to use by means of a balloon and the ECG findings.
  • The intervention is controlled with TEE to ensure that implantation is successful.
  • During treatment, our specialist doctors can also repair relatively large bulges in the atrial septum (aneurysms), which promote the formation of blood clots, as well as multiple defects in the atrial septum.
  • After the procedure, you will be attached to a monitor for six hours for observation, and given Heparin for one day to prevent blood clots from forming on the umbrella.
  • Your pressure dressing will be removed within no more than six hours, and the position of the umbrella monitored using X-rays and ultrasound.
  • After the intervention, you will have to take blood thinners for six months in order to prevent thrombi from forming on the umbrella.
  • In addition, if you undergo any procedures associated with an elevated risk of bacterial migration - such as dental treatment, a colonoscopy or an operation - you should take antibiotics beforehand and possibly afterwards too, depending on the nature of the treatment you are receiving. You should discuss this beforehand with the doctor performing the procedure..

Sekretariat der Kardiologie


0341 865-1426, -1428


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Freitag: 07:00-15:30 Uhr
Did you know?

Patent forame ovale (PFO) is a simple form of atrial septal defect (ASD). The latter is among the most common types of congenital heart defect. Our cardiologists as well as the pediatric cardiologists at the Heart Center have considerable experience in treating this defect.

pediatric cardiology