Reviewed by 1/2014 Brett E. Fenster, MD, FACC, FASE
Treatment of intracardiac shunts depends on the kind of defect and presence (or absence) of other medical problems.

Atrial septal defects (ASD) almost universally require treatment due to the risk of developing heart failure and high blood pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension). Although ASDs can be treated surgically, most are closed with a device that can be delivered via a cardiac catheter.

When patent foramen ovalea (PFO) are suspected to cause complications (low oxygen levels, decompression illness or stroke), consideration is made toward treatment with a closure device.  Although the use of PFO closure devices for low oxygen levels is particularly controversial, we are actively investigating this group of patients.  However, it should be noted that most PFOs are thought to be benign and require no treatment.

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