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A Journal on Heart and Vascular Diseases

Official Journal of the Italian Society of Angiology and Vascular Pathology
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Minerva Cardioangiologica 2011 December;59(6):613-6


language: English

Patent foramen ovale-mania: an unusual case of misdiagnosis

Rigatelli G., Dell’Avvocata F., Ronco F.

Section of Adult Congenital and Adult Heart Disease, Cardiovascular Diagnosis and Endoluminal Interventions, Rovigo General Hospital, Rovigo, Italy


Patent foramen ovale (PFO) is rapidly becoming in Europe, more than in the USA, a matter of over-diagnosis and over-treatment. A migrainous 34-year-old female with episodic hypostenia and even paralysis of the left arm was referred to a peripheral hospital for a complete neurological work-up. Being the Doppler ultrasound of carotid and vertebral arteries negative and angio-magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) positive for multiple white-matter lesions. A transthoracic echocardiography revealed a possible shunt through a patent foramen ovale with a right-to-left shunt and a mild buldging of interatrial septum, but the patient did not tolerate a further attempt of transesophageal echocardiography to confirm the diagnosis. Coagulation screening essay demonstrated a moderate hyperhomocisteinemia. In the hypothesis of embolic PFO mediated by a moderate prothrombotic state caused by hyperhomocisteinemia, the patient was referred to our attention for an attempt of PFO closure but on intracardiac echocardiography normal fossa ovalis without any shunt was revealed. One year later, during the follow-up, the patient became severely symptomatic for left arm hypostenia and parhestesia, both at rest and during efforts. Thus, the patient was submitted to a thoracic and upper limbs angio-MRI in order to exclude disease of the main arteries causing functional impotence. The MRI demonstrated thoracic outlet syndrome of both arms, more severe in the left arm with functional occlusion of the subclavian vein with abduction of the arm and possible cloth image at the subclavian vein next to the joint. The patient was referred to the thoracic surgeon for surgical repair.

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