After a mild TIA (1st one noticed...3 others didn't present as they occurred in the left "oatmeal" part of brain), and numerous tests (CT scan, MRI, TEE, ultrasound of the carotids) I was dx with PFO. I will be seeing two cardiologists at Loyola Medical Center on 8/15. "Clamshell" catheter closure has been discussed as opposed to open heart surgery. Can you give me a brief explanation of this, and how long the recovery period is? Can I expect that I will be taken off of coumadin after the surgery? (I hope, I hope, I hope...since I love to vary my diet.) By the way, I am a 45 female, in excellent health, one pregnancy at 37 with cesarean delivery, gall bladder removed 3 years ago, major weight loss (90 lbs) 3 years ago. I've never smoked, my cholesterol levels (both LDL and HDL) are excellent, and the tests done showed no indication of any heart disease developing.
I appreciate any information you can provide. Thank you.
Briefly the "clamshell" device is as it sounds, a two sided round object that clamps on either side of the atrium closing the PFO. It can be inserted through a catheter in the leg and usually only requires an overnight stay in the hospital and a brief recovery period. It can only be used on smaller PFOs and may become dislodged during placement.
Surgery is definative and is used for larger PFOs. The recovery is usually 3-5 days in the hospital and several weeks at home. The main disadvantage is having to undergo open heart surgery.
In general, after the PFO is closed coumadin is no longer needed- so break out the collard greens.
I had a PFO closed via open heart surgery a little over two years ago. I wasn't a candidate for the clamshell because I also required mitral valve repair. Both procedures were performed, and I've never had to take coumadin (which was one of my biggest fears about the whole thing).
If it were me and the clamshell was a good option, I'd certainly take it. Open heart surgery, no matter what they're doing, is a hard recovery -- and anything less invasive would be my choice.
On the other hand, I now have no future risk of the open reopening, so I did get an excellent measure of security out of the whole process.
I recently had a PFO closure through cardiac cath. I was in and out of the hospital that day (UCSF) and back to work full time within a week. I was so grateful that I did not have to have open heart surgery because the recovery time is so long. I am 40 years old with 3 children and was dx with PFO after I suffered a stroke. I would recommend this surgery to anyone who is a candidate for it. I feel great!
P.S. It has only been 3 weeks today!
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