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Heart, Lung and Circulation

Adjunct Methods for the Detection of Patent Foramen Ovale: The Contribution of Transcranial Doppler and the Valsalva Manoeuvre

Published:August 26, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hlc.2022.07.017
      A patent foramen ovale (PFO) is present in 25% of the population. In some patients, especially those without traditional stroke risk factors and with no immediately apparent cause, a cryptogenic stroke may be caused by an embolus passing through the PFO to the systemic circulation. The identification, or indeed exclusion, of a PFO is sought in these patients, most commonly using contrast-enhanced transthoracic or transoesophageal echocardiography. Another method for detecting a PFO is transcranial Doppler, which allows the detection of PFO possibly without the need for an echo laboratory, and with arguably improved sensitivity. This review will focus on transcranial Doppler detection of PFO, with a brief summary of echocardiographic techniques and the use of ultrasound contrast agents, and the role of provocations to increase diagnostic accuracy, specifically the Valsalva manoeuvre. We discuss the phases alongside the direct and indirect signs of an adequate Valsalva manoeuvre.

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