Echocardiographic features of PFOs and paradoxical embolism: a complicated puzzle

Academic Article


  • Patent foramen ovale (PFO) is a residual, oblique, slit or tunnel like communication in the atrial septum that persists into adulthood. It is usually an incidental finding with no clinical repercussions. Nevertheless, recent evidence supports the association between the presence of a PFO and a number of clinical conditions, most notably cryptogenic stroke (CS). There is enough evidence that paradoxical embolism is a mechanism which can explain this association. Patient characteristics and certain echocardiography-derived anatomical and hemodynamic features of PFO provide great assistance in estimating the probability of paradoxical embolism. In this review, we initially describe PFO embryology and anatomy. We extensively present the available data on clinical, anatomical and hemodynamic features of PFOs which have been correlated with increased likelihood of paradoxical embolism and recent evidence of therapeutic management.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Aggeli C; Verveniotis A; Andrikopoulou E; Vavuranakis E; Toutouzas K; Tousoulis D
  • Start Page

  • 1849
  • End Page

  • 1861
  • Volume

  • 34
  • Issue

  • 12