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Eur J Cardiothorac Surg. 1997 May;11(5):824-7.

Systematic surgical closure of patent foramen ovale in selected patients with cerebrovascular events due to paradoxical embolism. Early results of a preliminary study.

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  • 1Department of Cardiovascular Surgery, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, Lausanne, Switzerland.



To define therapeutic strategy for management of patients with ischemic stroke due to a high probability of paradoxical embolism through a Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO).


Since 1988 all consecutive patients with cerebrovascular events and PFO from the Stroke Registry of our population-based primary-care center are prospectively studied and followed. Since 1992, among 118 patients with cryptogenic embolic brain infarct or transient ischemic attack (TIA) and PFO, 32 consecutive patients younger than 60 years who presented at least two of the following criteria were admitted for surgery: history of Valsalva strain before stroke (11); multiple clinical events (13); multiple infarcts on brain Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) (15); atrial septal aneurysm (ASA) (16); large right-to-left shunt (> 50 microbubbles) (12).


Operative time 135' +/- 33'. CPB time 34' +/- 14'. Aortic crossclamping time 16' +/- 6'. Post-operative bleeding 485 +/- 170 ml. No homologous blood transfusion required. No neurological, cardiac or renal complications. All patients were followed-up corresponding to a cumulative time of 601 patient-months. This revealed no recurrent vascular events nor silent new brain lesions on brain MRI. Systematic simultaneous contrast Trans Esophageal Echocardiography (TEE)-Trans Cranial Doppler showed a small residual interatrial shunt in two patients.


Surgical closure of a patent foramen ovale can be accomplished with very low morbidity and reduce efficiently the risk of stroke recurrence. It seems to be the option of choice in selected patients with a higher (> 1.5%/year) risk of stroke recurrence.

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