Despite the growing recognition of the patent foramen ovale (PFO), particularly when associated with an atrial septal aneurysm, as risk factor for several disease manifestations (above all paradoxical embolism), the optimal treatment strategy for symptomatic patients remains controversial. Percutaneous PFO closure is a minimally invasive procedure which can be performed with high success and low morbidity. For secondary prevention of recurrent embolic events, it appears to be clinically at least as effective as oral anticoagulation. Ventricular septal defects (VSDs) are the most common congenital heart defects. Percutaneous VSD closure is more intricate than PFO closure. It is associated with a significant risk of both peri-interventional and mid-term complications. In suitable patients with congenital VSD, device closure may well be the preferred treatment both for muscular or perimembranous VSDs and for residual defects after surgical VSD closure. The risk of complete atrioventricular conduction block remains a concern in the perimembranous group. The history, technique and clinical role of percutaneous PFO and VSD closure are discussed, with emphasis on current problems and future developments.
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Funding: BM: research grant and speaker bureau for AGA Medical.
Competing interests: None.