How is patent foramen ovale (PFO) diagnosed?

Abdul J. Tajik, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
A patent foramen ovale is diagnosed through an ultrasound test of the heart (transesophageal echocardiogram). During this test, the doctor can find out whether or not there is a shunt or fluid shift between the right and left heart chambers.
Bijoy K. Khandheria, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Heart ultrasound is used to diagnosis patent foramen ovale (PFO). A saline solution is shaken vigorously to create microbubbles and then injected into the body. Ultrasound detects the flow of the microbubbles through the heart, showing if they travel through a hole between the atrial (upper) chambers, thus diagnosing PFO. There is no serious risk involved; this noninvasive procedure does not require radiation. Check out the example of how to diagnose patent foramen ovale from Dr. Khandheria of Aurora Health Care.

Continue Learning about Congenital Heart Disease

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.