DefinitionBy Mayo Clinic Staff
A patent foramen ovale (PFO) is a hole in the heart that didn't close the way it should after birth.
During fetal development, a small flap-like opening — the foramen ovale (foh-RAY-mun oh-VAY-lee) — is normally present in the wall between the right and left upper chambers of the heart (atria). It normally closes during infancy. When the foramen ovale doesn't close, it's called a patent foramen ovale.
Although it's not uncommon to have a patent foramen ovale, most people with the condition never know they have it. A patent foramen ovale is often discovered during tests for other problems. Learning that you have a patent foramen ovale is understandably concerning, but most people never need treatment for this disorder.
July 16, 2015
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