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Revista Colombiana de Cardiología

Print version ISSN 0120-5633


JARAMILLO U, Mario H. Patent foramen ovale and cryptogenic stroke: Echocardiography role and state of the art. Rev. Col. Cardiol. [online]. 2008, vol.15, n.4, pp.184-192. ISSN 0120-5633.

The causes of ischemic stroke in young patients are difficult to find, in spite of systematic investigations directed to rule out heart etiology, alterations in coagulation or any other type of vascular disease; hence the «cryptogenic» definition. There have been speculations regarding the potential role of right-to-left intracardiac shunts as a path for paradoxical embolisms that result in ischemic cerebral disease. Transesophagic echocardiography with peripheral venous injection of saline contrast has shown to be the preferred method for the diagnosis of patent foramen ovale and right-to-left shunt. Prospective studies using acetylsalicylic acid or warfarin have not shown significant reduction of recurrent strokes. Even though both surgical and percutaneous closure of the patent foramen ovale have shown to decrease the rate of subsequent embolic episodes, their indication remains under discussion, at least until the appearance of randomized clinical trials, now under development. However, the cases of recurrent paradoxical embolism and those in professional scuba divers, both with intra-atrial septum aneurysm and an associated patent foramen ovale, are the only unequivocal indications for percutaneous closure. Successful closure, defined by transesophagic echocardiography, seems to predict lack of recurrent embolic events. As the complication rate of device implantation may decrease and these devices become technologically simple, percutaneous closure will prevail over surgical closure.

Keywords : patent foramen ovale; transesophagic echocardiography; transtoraxic echocardiography; transitory ischemic attack.

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