Patent foramen ovale: clinical manifestations and treatment.
A persistent patent foramen ovale produces an intermittent intra-atrial right-to-left shunt and occurs in approximately 25% of the general population. Although the vast majority of people with patent foramen ovale are asymptomatic, a patent foramen ovale is believed to act as a pathway for chemicals or thrombus that can result in a variety of clinical manifestations, including stroke, migraine headache, decompression sickness, high-altitude pulmonary edema, and platypnea-orthodeoxia syndrome. The optimal management of patients with patent foramen ovale who experience cryptogenic stroke is unclear. Percutaneous closure appears to have a low risk profile and has been considered in high-risk patients who are not candidates for randomized clinical trials. Randomized clinical trials that are underway should help define the best management of patent foramen ovale, as well as the true safety and efficacy of percutaneous closure devices.