PFO "angioplasty": The preparation of a very stiff and long tunnel for device closure

Gianfranco Butera, Luciane Piazza, Mohamed Heles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


INTRODUCTION: Patent foramen ovale (PFO) closure is a widely performed procedure. Understanding the anatomy is mandatory in order to perform the procedure successfully. The degree of overlap between the septum primum and secundum is called the tunnel. In particular, long and stiff tunnels may prevent the correct positioning of devices that have a fixed distance between the right and left atrial discs.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: We evaluated retrospectively 361 patients with PFO closure between January 2012 and June 2014 in our institution and were treated due to previous history of ischemic stroke. By TEE, the overlap between septum primum and secundum is usually better seen on the bicaval view that is obtained at 75-90° midesophageal views. Tunnel length and PFO opening were measured. Twelve subjects (median age 35 years; range 30-58 years; three females) showed a long (median 22 mm; range 15-32 mm) and rigid tunnel (median opening 2 mm; range 1-4 mm).

RESULTS: Angioplasty of the tunnel was performed by using peripheral angioplasty balloons with a length ranging from 4 to 8 cm and a diameter between 8 and 12 mm. After angioplasty, the tunnel appeared shorter (12 mm; range 8-16 mm) and less rigid (median opening 8 mm; range 7-12 mm). The following devices were implanted: 25 mm Amplatzer PFO occluder in three patients; 25 mm Gore septal occluder in nine subjects. Median fluoroscopy time was 8 min (range 6-10 min). No complications occurred. At a median follow-up of 12 months (range 2-18 months), no problems occurred and all subjects but one (trivial residual shunting) showed a complete closure.

CONCLUSIONS: Angioplasty of a PFO rigid and stiff tunnel is a feasible and safe option. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)480-483
Number of pages4
JournalCatheterization and Cardiovascular Interventions
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 15 2017


  • Adult
  • Angioplasty, Balloon, Coronary/adverse effects
  • Cardiac Catheterization/adverse effects
  • Cardiac Catheters
  • Echocardiography, Three-Dimensional
  • Echocardiography, Transesophageal
  • Female
  • Fluoroscopy
  • Foramen Ovale, Patent/diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prosthesis Design
  • Radiography, Interventional
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Septal Occluder Device
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


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