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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The effect of patent foramen ovale closure on visual aura without headache or typical aura with migraine headache.

  • Author(s): Khessali, Hamidreza
  • Mojadidi, M Khalid
  • Gevorgyan, Rubine
  • Levinson, Ralph
  • Tobis, Jonathan
  • et al.

OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of right-to-left (R to L) shunt in patients with visual aura and evaluate the effect of shunt closure on resolution of aura. BACKGROUND: Right-to-left shunting is associated with migraine headache (MH) with aura. Some patients present with visual aura without headaches. It is unclear whether visual aura without headache is a form of migraine or a transient neurologic dysfunction. METHODS: Of patients referred to the University of California, Los Angeles for suspected patent foramen ovale (PFO), 225 had visual aura with or without MH. Patients were assessed for a shunt and evaluated for MH and/or visual aura. They were divided into 3 groups: 1) visual aura associated with MH; 2) visual aura unrelated in time to MH; and 3) visual aura without MH. The frequency of R to L shunt was compared with a control group of 200 patients. Eighty patients underwent PFO closure. Residual shunts, MH, and visual aura were reassessed after 3 and 12 months. RESULTS: The prevalence of R to L shunt in Groups A, B, and C was 96%, 72%, and 67%, respectively, versus 18% in the control group (p < 0.0001). The frequency of shunting was similar in Group B versus Group C, but much higher in all 3 groups compared with control subjects. Twelve months after PFO closure, symptoms of aura were resolved in 52%, 75%, and 80% of patients in Groups A, B, and C, respectively (p = NS). CONCLUSIONS: The similar distribution of R to L shunting in all 3 patient groups and the correlation between PFO closure and improvement of aura suggests a similar pathophysiology between the presence of PFO and the visual aura phenomenon, whether or not headache is present in the symptom complex.

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