I had a PFO closure on Monday January 11, 2010. In March I suffered a car accident in which I broke my neck and my wrist. In June, I lost 30% of my vision in my right eye due to an inferior branch retinal arterial occlusion. It is still unclear whether or not the clot was left over from the surgeries in March or possibly due to oral contraceptive. In August I had a syncope episode in which I fell and broke my nose. This trip to the E.R is where I met my cardiologist.
She first suggested I see a neurologist to eliminate any other possible problems. This turned out to be fine. She next ordered an echocardiogram to be done with a bubble test. This is where the PFO was discovered. A TEE was then performed to see the exact location and size of the PFO.
Echo: doesn’t hurt at all. The tech will have you breathe in and out and hold it for clear pictures, while holding an ultrasound probe around your heart. For a bubble test, you will have an IV and a saline solution will be injected and you will be asked to tighten your abdominal muscles.
TEE: This test was not a lot of fun…at all. The procedure begins with numbing your throat. I began with gargling a solution in the back of my throat (be sure not to let this touch your tongue!). Then a spray was applied to the back of my throat. Once this has been done you will have to consciously swallow every bit of spit in your throat or you will accidently inhale it and a coughing spree will occur. I was then given pain medicine to relax me and some of that “forgetful” solution during the actual insertion of the tube. The procedure it self is very short and quick.
The PFO closure, I was given many pain relievers and again some of that la la forgetful stuff, but I was able to watch the entire procedure. Of course I could have easily fallen asleep. The procedure itself didn’t really hurt except right afterwards I would suggest not trying to sit up at all and lie as flat as you can. If you do you may feel a tight chest pain or as some people have described it a “stuck chicken bone” feeling. For me after about five hours I didn’t feel anything else in my chest. It is three days later now, and I do have a local pain at the incision site. It throbs from time to time, but nothing unmanageable. The only thing I have experienced is dizziness. I am not sure if this is from the plavix and aspirin they have me on or just tired from the whole ordeal. Also, no heavy lifting or exercising for a while.
I didn’t have migraines though so I cannot comment on that, but I am glad my chances of any occlusions or strokes in the future have diminished a lot. Plus, I can scuba dive now without any complicationsJ. Oh, and the second echo after the procedure you can see the little double umbrella or figure eight just perfectly. I didn't have any inflammation or anything around the site...it's just part of me now.
I am 39 yo male living in Brisbane Australia. I read this forum from start to finish after my stroke and found it to be a great source of comfort during a very confusing and distressing time in my life.
I am writing to help provide some feedback to people considering a PFO closure and I would like to thank everyone in this thread for their input. You have no idea what a relief it was to find some "real" people on-line who were going through the same thing as me.
As far back as I can remember I have had migraines.
Sometimes 3 per month lasting 2-3 days. I have aura with them - you know, speckled vision, vomiting etc. I had CAT scans etc at age 11 and then 15 and in my early twenties and various other tests. No one found anything wrong with me.
But I knew there was something wrong but believing I had seen plenty of doctors and had plenty of tests, the problem must be just "something I'll have to live with"
about 2 months ago I had a TIA/Stroke - lost ability to speak or write for 24 hours with a full recovery within 48 hours. It was a huge shock. I never go to the doctor. Never get a cold. While everyone around me can be struck down with various flu's etc - I seem to be able to fight them off. I am fit. No diabetes, no high blood pressure or cholesterol. I have never had a day of sick leave in 22 years. SO this stroke came as a shock to me and my family.
I have noticed the following symptoms over the past 5 years:
1. Tired eyes - I am getting tired sore red eyes every day. By 2pm my eyes are dry and irritable
2. lack of "life energy" - I seem to have been feeling like I was living in a fog. Nothing had the crispness of sharpness I remembered as a younger person
3. Mild depression - struggle to get through the day. Become more effected by others actions. Feel like the world was not somewhere I could thrive in
4. Basically a reduction in "LIFE FORCE" - I just thought I was getting OLD!
Then at 39 I had a Stroke/TIA
So I went to hospital in an ambulance. Had all of the tests.
What followed was the discovery of a large hole between left and right atrium sections - PFO. The hole is between 15 and 20mm.
I had the TOE test and that was the only test that showed the hole.
So firstly, if you are having migraines with aura and suffer from sore eyes and have noticed a general reduction in the enjoyment of life in the absence of all other stroke risk factors ask your doctor for a TOE test and they might just find you have a PFO. The TOE procedure is quick and painless apart from a sore throat for a few hours after the procedure.
I elected to have the hole plugged up with an Amplatzer Occluder device. The operation took 1 hour and 20 minutes. The procedure was successful with the bubble test showing only a few bubbles pass through however my surgeon told me this is normal and that over time the heart's own tissue would cover the device and the device would become part of my heart wall.
So, am I glad I had the procedure?
You bet I am!
The first thing I noticed was that my eyes were not sore anymore. I am guessing a clean feed of blood to my head was providing my eyes with well oxygenated blood. So for once in my life my eyes were getting what they needed to function normally. I awoke in my bed in hospital after the operation in a room with an extremely bright light. I was able to look directly at it without any discomfort. This was something new to me. I have always avoided bright light. So instantly I could detect a change and slowly I started to join the dots and look for other aspect of my health that had improved.
It is now 10 days since the procedure and I feel great. The only pain I have is in my groin but that is going away. I had severe bruising in the groin area. I was not told about the groin pain or bruising before the operation. But take it easy for a week after the operation and you should be fine.
Also I have not had a migraine or even the dull headache I just live with everyday. I have never taken medication for my headaches as I seem to be someone with a high pain threshold and I basically don't like taking medicines. No anti-biotic - no aspirin etc.
Now I take 300mg of aspirin every morning with food and I have been told to do this for the next 12 months.
My energy levels are back to how they were when I was 20 years old and I feel more positive about life. I feel better.
In a few weeks I will start exercising again when my body tells me it is ready. Listen to your body and only start full work and sport regimes when you know it is the right time.
I am slowly getting a rhythm back into my life and enjoying it.
The stroke/TIA has made me appreciate life more and now that I have more energy and better health with many of the symptoms I have lived with for years simply vanish - all I can say is get that "bloody hole plugged up as soon as possible". You won't regret it.