Hello Everyone. I am a new member and want to share my husband's experience with his PFO closure. He had residual migraine headaches left after a bout with West Nile. He suffered for 3 years with a constant migraine. No drugs worked for him to give him any relief. A drug rep told our primary care doc to check for a PFO. Echo was done and found a PFO Right to Left 8 mm hole. Sent us to Denver to a pediatric cardiologist that found my husband to be a candidate for implantation of a closure device. On Feb.28, 2007, the device was implanted via catheter. The device chosen was a 17 mm CardioSEAL Occluder. While he was still on the operating table, his migraine headache went away. We were so elated!! He had virtually no problems at all during recovery that many of you are describing. He was 44 years old, thin, athletic build and healthy otherwise.
His color improved, his thinking improved, his dexterity improved. It was a great time in our lives. We started to live again.
On March 10th he had 3 separate "migraines". These later proved to be TIAs (Mini-strokes).
Then, on March 11, 2008 (one year and 11 days after the implantation) while preparing to go to work at 5 AM, he had a massive stroke. He had left sided weakness, couldn't stand on his left leg or control his left arm. He is 6'3" and I am 5'4" but I carried him to the car and drove to the ER. EKG showed he was in Atrial Fib and he had a CVA (stroke). The ER kept trying to convert his heart to a normal sinus rhythm but it would not convert. He was hospitalized and the next day had a T.E.E. which showed a 20 mm (almost 3/4") blood clot hanging off of the closure device. The blood clot was breaking off and sending little blood clots to his brain causing multiple strokes. THANK GOD that the ER was not able to convert his rhythm as that would have sent the clot to the brain immediately. The only answer was to open him up and go in and take out the blood clot and the closure device thru open heart surgery.
The problem the surgeon faced was how to open him up without jiggling the clot off and sending it to his brain. They told him that if it breaks off it would be fatal and do not sneeze, cough, stumble, fall, etc. or that would be fatal.
As it happened, the surgery went well. My husband came home on the 4th day from ICU. He was getting along as well as expected. On the 6th day, he did not feel right and may have had another TIA. On the 7th day, he did have another stroke and was admitted back to the NICU. This 2nd series of strokes was worse than the 1st set.
The reason he had a 2nd set of strokes AFTER the surgery is because so much of the cardiac muscle had to be cut out of the heart when the implant device was removed that he bled inside and formed more clots that went to the brain. During the surgery, a new septum had to be fashioned out of pericardium tissue from the outside of the heart and then bovine (cow) material was used to close the outside of the heart.
Now he has learned to walk again without his leg brace and still has lots of memory issues like how to turn on the microwave, 2X4=?, etc. He does drive again and is starting to work out, but he will NEVER be the same.
He is left with a cough that affects cardiac patients called Dressler's Syndrome and is on his 3rd round of steroids to try to get rid of it. He also has been left with a significant tricuspid regurgitation and a pardoxical septum shift of the left ventricle which means his heart does not squeeze to pump the blood out. One side goes to push against the other side but instead just pushes it away as the weak side does not come in to meet the opposite side to form a contaction.
Recently, he has begun to have arrhythmias and massive dizziness.
In 20/20 hindsight, if we would have chosen open heart surgery in the first place, he would have been healed up and back to work full time and we would have been planning our next vacation. The open heart surgery would have been a much better choice and a much easier recovery since we already know that he has recovered from that fairly fast. His recovery from the 8 strokes he had is far more debilitating than the open heart surgery. It is just all of these other medical problems regarding a heart that had to be cut open and rebuilt from the inside out because of an implant device that during the surgery was found to not have closed the original PFO in the first place. There was still a hole (granted smaller hole) after the implanted device was placed. Either the device was defective or the implantation was defective.
Please weigh ALL of your options VERY CAREFULLY before you decide to have your PFO closed with a closure device. Also a side note, the brand CardioSEAL Occluder (we have been told by our cardiologist) has the highest rate for causing clots.
I am very blessed to still have my husband with me today and pray every day that he will continue to fight the effects of a closure device, 8 strokes and open heart surgery that has ravaged his body.
Thanks for letting me post this long post in the hopes of helping someone who may not know all of the options and making a quick decision without doing all of your research may end up costing you more in the long run and I am not talking about $$.