I had my closure done exactly one week ago now. 20th June 2008. My situation may be different to most, as my stroke was caused by a gas embolism after scuba diving. Although my speech was slighty affected, I was very fortuate, and have totally recovered. I'm on 75mg Plavix and 75mg Aspirin, although I stop taking the plavix one month after surgery.
The surgery couldn't have been more straight forward. I was in for ~ 20-25 minutes and the 4mm hole was sealed with 23mm of material on either side. I was told it was a good fit, which I will take to mean two flat surfaces between the hole. Had to lie flat for an hour then got to sit up and have a sandwich and some soup. 3 hours after that I was dressed and on my way home. No problems with my vein either. Maybe a few drops of blood the first night, but nothing that concerned or frightened me and no pain whatsoever from the wound.
To be honest I don't feel any different. As yet I haven't had any afib, and hope I never will. I can start driving again today which is another major boost. In six weeks a will have another echocardiogram to confirm my heart has sealed over the device and can start diving again. Booking holidays today, no need to worry about DVT on long haul flights any more.
Like most people pending PFO closure, we trailed the internet for answers, sometimes to the point of boredom. Every new article scares you more than the last, and then some forums you read only have posting because something has gone wrong.
The reason for writing, well it was just to let everyone know that a PFO closure can run smoothly without any problems. Hopefully anyone still waiting for there closure can read this and take some comfort. Would I go through the procedure again or face another stroke - you bet, in a heart beat.
If anyone wants me to answer a specific question I will happily to do so.
I am not going to lie to you. I am going to be straight up with you. The recovery time for open heart surgery is longer than having a closure device implanted. I think that is obvious. Everyone is different. Are you healthy other than the PFO? Are you overweight? You already have age on your side. Young folks heal up quicker than old folks, even 44 year olds. For open heart surgery, they do have to open up your rib cage to get to your heart. I am not trying to scare you, but even research on the internet would tell you that. You also will be placed on a heart bypass machine. They can't sew up a hole with the heart moving like it does. ANY type of surgery is scary. My husband's recovery time for the implant was about 3 or 4 days. After open heart surgery, he was up and around after about 2 days in ICU (as a precaution) and he was walking a mile doing laps around the hospital floor from days 3 thru 5. The healing for the sternum that is opened is what takes the longest. It probably is not solid again for about 6 months. We were fortunate to have a GREAT, caring, empathetic thoracic surgeon for my husband. Here in Colorado, open heart surgeries are done all day, every day and our doc had LOTS of experience with the surgery. What complicated the surgery was that darned closure device. It had to be cut out of his heart, which is now causing more complications because of the muscle that had to be cut out that was "attached" to the closure device. Even the cardiologist here along with the thoracic surgeon had not seen ANY case like what my husband's closure device had caused.
Once he came home from the surgery, he had to sleep in an upright, slightly reclined position (a recliner works great) for about 2 1/2 weeks or so before he could lie down in our regular bed. He was given a "chest hugger" which I called his "man bra" that has a wide (6") strap that goes around the back and comes to the front with 2 handles with straps over the arms (like a bra). Hard to describe but instead of cups in front for a bra, there are plastic handles for the patient to grab onto in order to squeeze the rib cage together to support the chest to roll over, sit up, cough, sneeze etc. This is what he wore 24 hours a day every day for about a month. Great invention. I just asked my husband again what his recommondation would be for someone in your position. He said open heart (even as scary as it is), he would choose 1st.
You are correct in saying that initially, things are fine. But from what I have read, the problems start 6 months to 2 years after the implant is in place in adults. My husband, remember, 1 year and 11 days. I guess kids are different, I am not sure about them.
You may definitely copy out my posts. The cardiologist for my husband is writing an article with the input from his contact person at the FDA about my husband's case because there are not very many studies done on the devices and long term post surgery patients. After the device was removed, it had to go to pathology and then it was mandatory that it be sent directly to the FDA for inspection. I am not sure when the article is coming out, but it should be fairly soon now. I will post on this site when it does get published.
Hold your doctor's feet to the fire and get ALL of your questions answered before you make a decision on Friday. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers as I know that this is a very difficult time in your life. Best of luck to you and your family. Please post and let us know what you decide.
I am so BLESSED to have found this site. Thank you so much for everything and writing back to me and kindly explaining and discussiing your husband experience. To be honest he is all I think about and what you guys have gone through. My husband is working in Wyoming until the first week in November and I'm back here in Idaho. My mom and my sister has been going with me to the drs. I have been reading every night to him the posts on here. He absolutley does not want me to get the PFO done. So open heart surgery is whats left. Yes I'm very healthy, just alittle over weight from having two kids. My last one was born 5 months ago. I use to work as a manager at my sister daycare but after quiting there my stress level is way down and I don't get the headaches like I use to. And I have chest pain every now again and get short of breath. But I love working and want to go back to work. Just I won't be going back to the daycare.
I read on another post that they found a new way to do open heart surgery without cracking the rib cage. They go through your side right to the heart. But the lady who posted that can't really find any information on it. So thats another question for the dr.
Again Thank You,
If you don't mind can I have the Dr name and number and hospital that he had it done at? I want my surgery done by a dr who knows what he's doing. But first i have to see if my insurance will cover colorado drs and hospitals. If they will then my surgery is covered 100%. Please i don't just want this done by someone whos done it a couple of times.
Thank you so much for the information. The dr here in idaho falls doesn't seem to want to sit down in the axam room and go over things with me. he is always in a hurry! so that is why i found a dr in boise. and i will find out what he is like on friday. but if he's the same way then i don't want a dr who doesn't care! its not the distance of the dr. its who i'm gonna trust with my life. Thank you so much for everything and i hope all the best for you and your husband. I will write again after my dr appointment. but i don't get back to town until sunday nite. wish you all the best!
Well just got back from my dr appointment and were doing a TEE on monday to determine the size of the hole. Which is something that the first doctor I saw didnt even say anything about getting it done. He just wanted to go in and do the pfo surgery. And the dr here is boise didn't even understand why he would even attempt to do that without knowing how little or big or if surgery is even nessacery! Well I will inform more on monday nite after my TEE.