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Cardiologists offer day procedure to treat strokes

Alice Jacobs, MD BMC is offering a new, multidisciplinary procedure to prevent recurrent strokes, allowing patients to get treated without having to set foot in an operating room.

Percutaneous patent foramen ovale (PFO) closure is a procedure used to close the communication between the two upper chambers (atria) of the heart. A PFO is a small hole between the atria that fails to close at birth and is occasionally associated with a cryptogenic (unanticipated) stroke. This hole is normal in many patients but can allow blood clots to move from one side of the body to the other under the right conditions, according to Alice Jacobs, MD, director of the cardiac catheterization lab and Interventional Cardiology at BMC.

The procedure allows the interventional cardiologist to use minimally invasive techniques that are less traumatic for the patient, added Jacobs. An umbrella-like device within a sheath in the femoral artery is threaded over a wire and inserted into the hole, she explained. The shield then deploys, allowing the closure device to straddle the atria and permanently seal the hole.

A patient with a PFO who has suffered a stroke is placed on blood thinners. If the patient has suffered a second stroke or is not able to take blood thinners due to a bleeding risk, the procedure is performed to close the hole. Patients who were born with congenital defects are also candidates for this procedure.

"This day procedure can avoid the need for open heart surgery and in selected patients may decrease the chance of a recurrent stroke," said Jacobs.

Interventional cardiologists at BMC are working in collaboration with the neurologists and hematologists to identify patients who may benefit from the procedure.

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