Surgical prophylaxis of recurrent stroke in patients with patent foramen ovale: A pilot study

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Prevention of recurrent stroke in adults with patent foramen ovale represents a therapeutic challenge. Antiplatelet or anticoagulant treatment is widely introduced, but its exact indication is not known. In this pilot study, eight men and three women with previous ischemic cerebral events underwent direct surgical closure of the patent foramen ovale. Mean age was 39.4 (from 30 to 58) years. No coexisting cause of stroke was found after extensive investigations, including blood and coagulation tests, echocardiography, 24-hour three-lead electrocardiographic monitoring, extracranial and transcranial Doppler ultrasonography, and cerebral angiography. Criteria for operation also included at least two of the following: atrial septal aneurysm, multiple cerebral infarcts, a history of multiple cerebral events, and Valsalva strain before stroke. Before operation, one patient had two shunts (1 patent foramen ovale, 1 intrapulmonary shunt). No intraoperative or postoperative complications occurred, but a few hours after operation transient arrhythmias developed in two patients without atrial fibrillation, hemodynamic instability, or embolism. During a median follow-up of 12.2 months, no patient had recurrent stroke. All patients prospectively underwent brain magnetic resonance imaging and contrast echocardiography with simultaneous transcranial Doppler ultrasonography. A residual right-to-left interatrial shunt, smaller than the preoperative one, was observed in only one patient, whereas no lesion was seen on magnetic resonance imaging. Our study suggests that surgical closure of patent foramen ovale in patients with presumed paradoxic embolism is safe, with no recurrent stroke in the first year of follow-up. Further studies are needed to evaluate the long-term prognosis of patients with versus without operation and to define the role of operation as an alternative to prolonged antithrombotic treatment.




Guffi, M., Bogousslavsky, J., Jeanrenaud, X., Devuyst, G., & Sadeghi, H. (1996). Surgical prophylaxis of recurrent stroke in patients with patent foramen ovale: A pilot study. Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, 112(2), 260–263.

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