Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO)

Patent Foramen OvaleA Patent Foramen Ovale PFO is an opening between the two upper chambers of the heart that did not close after birth. This communication is wide open during fetal life and may remain open for many years after birth. It may be confused with a small atrial septal defect, which is a small hole in the heart. A PFO does not produce any heart murmur. It is detected or found during a color flow Doppler echocardiogram.

About half of pre-school children have a PFO. Between 15 to 34% of the adult population may still have a PFO. Complications associated with a PFO are very rare. A PFO may be associated with head migraines, paradoxical emboli (blue arrow in diagram), stroke, decompression (during deep sea scuba diving) and pulmonary edema (at very high altitudes).

Virtually all patients with a PFO lead a normal life without any type of restrictions from sports. A follow-up appointment by a pediatric cardiologist is usually not necessary although we may recommend for you to call us back in 5-10 years, especially if the patient is planning to do deep sea scuba diving, has extreme obesity or if there is blood clotting problems in the patient or immediate family.

Our Mission

Children's Heart Specialists, PSC is committed to provide comprehensive pediatric cardiac services to infants, children and young adults. We strive to insure the highest quality in non-invasive cardiovascular testing. Our medical staff is committed to being board certified in pediatric cardiology and adult congenital heart disease.

Our goal is to provide the highest quality of care with compassion and respect to our patients and their families.

Accredited in Echocardiography


We do not give any medical advice or recommendations about you or your child's health in this website. The medical information that appears on this website is to be used as a general guide about heart defects and symptoms. Medical advice is discussed at the time of your consultation with Dr. Villafañe.