Recent studies support the hypothesis of a close aetiological and pathogenic association between the presence of patent foramen ovale (PFO) and cryptogenic stroke. The therapeutic options currently used in the treatment of these patients range from standard antiaggregation and standard-dose anticoagulation to the percutaneous occlusion of the PFO. The use or recommendation of treatment is based both on clinical risk factors associated with PFO, such as age, detection of states of hypercoagulability and previous history of stroke, and on the risks associated to right-to-left shunt (RLSh) and PFO, such as the size of PFO, magnitude of RLSh and the presence of atrial septal aneurysm (ASA). However, there is currently no consensus regarding the most suitable treatment and it is surprising to observe the widespread use of certain therapeutic approaches which are not supported by clinical evidence. In this revision, we analyse the relevance of PFO in cryptogenic stroke, consider the main evidence available for determining the best management of these patients and make diagnostic and therapeutic management recommendations.
Keywords: Patent foramen ovale, right-to-left shunt, cryptogenic stroke, transcranial Doppler, echocardiography
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