Prevalence and repair of intraoperatively diagnosed patent foramen ovale and association with perioperative outcomes and long-term survival.



A recent survey suggested that cardiothoracic surgeons may alter planned procedures to repair incidentally discovered patent foramen ovale (PFO). How frequently this occurs and the impact on outcomes remain unknown.


To measure the frequency of incidentally discovered PFO closure during cardiothoracic surgery and determine its perioperative and long-term impact.

Design, setting, and patients

We reviewed the intraoperative transesophageal echocardiograms of 13,092 patients without prior diagnosis of PFO or atrial septal defect undergoing surgery at the Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio, from 1995 through 2006. Postoperative outcomes were prospectively collected until discharge.

Main outcome measures

All-cause hospital mortality and stroke were predetermined primary outcomes; length of hospital stay, length of intensive care unit stay, and time on cardiopulmonary bypass were secondary outcomes.


Intraoperative PFO was diagnosed in 2277 patients in the study population (17%), and risk factors for stroke were similar in patients with and without PFO. After propensity matching was performed with the comparator groups, patients with PFO demonstrated similar rates of in-hospital death (3.4% vs 2.6%, P = .11) and postoperative stroke (2.3% vs 2.3%, P = .84). Surgical closure was performed in 639 PFO patients (28%), and surgeons were more likely to close defects in patients who were younger (mean [SD] age, 61.1 [14] vs 64.4 [13] years; P < .001), were undergoing mitral or tricuspid valve surgery (51% vs 32%, P < .001), or had history of transient ischemic attack or stroke (16% vs 10%, P < .001). Patients with repaired PFO demonstrated a 2.47-times greater odds (95% confidence interval, 1.02-6.00) of having a postoperative stroke compared with those with unrepaired PFO (2.8% vs 1.2%, P = .04). Long-term analysis demonstrated that PFO repair was associated with no survival difference (P = .12).


Incidental PFO is common in patients undergoing cardiothoracic surgery but is not associated with increased perioperative morbidity or mortality. Surgical closure appears unrelated to long-term survival and may increase postoperative stroke risk.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Krasuski, Richard A, Stephen A Hart, Drew Allen, Athar Qureshi, Gosta Pettersson, Penny L Houghtaling, Lillian H Batizy, Eugene Blackstone, et al. (2009). Prevalence and repair of intraoperatively diagnosed patent foramen ovale and association with perioperative outcomes and long-term survival. JAMA, 302(3). pp. 290–297. 10.1001/jama.2009.1012 Retrieved from

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Richard Andrew Krasuski

Professor of Medicine

Dr. Richard Krasuski is Director of the Adult Congenital Heart Center at Duke University Medical Center, the Director of Hemodynamic Research, and the Medical Director of the CTEPH Program. He is considered a thought leader in the fields of pulmonary hypertension and congenital heart disease. His research focus is in epidemiologic and clinical studies involving patients with pulmonary hypertension and patients with congenital heart disease. He is involved in multiple multicenter studies through the Alliance for Adult Research in Congenital Cardiology (AARCC). He has also helped to develop multiple research databases in these patient populations. He is Co-PI in the upcoming EPIPHANY Study examining the impact of medical and transcatheter interventions on RV-PA coupling in patients with chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension. Over his career he has mentored over 80 students, residents and fellows and has published over 300 peer reviewed publications, book chapters and meeting abstracts. He is also the Chief Editor of Advances in Pulmonary Hypertension and on the editorial boards of several leading medical journals.

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