Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO)

Watch animation of procedure.

A patent foramen ovale (PFO) is a hole in the heart that didn’t close the way it should after birth. The condition is relatively common.

During fetal development, a small flap-like opening – the foramen ovale (foh-RAY-mun oh-VAY-lee) – is usually present between the right and left upper chambers of the heart. It normally closes within the first or second year of life. When the foramen ovale doesn’t close, it’s called a patent foramen ovale.

Most people with a patent foramen ovale never know they have it. A patent foramen ovale is often discovered during tests for other problems. Learning that you have a patent foramen ovale is understandably worrisome, but most people never need treatment for this condition, however if your doctor determines closure is needed this procedure is done at the hospital.