Continue or stop diving with a PFO?

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Frogman82

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I had a TEE screening done on Monday and it revealed a PFO. Clear shunt while performing the valsalva manouver. Over the past eight years I have probably had 6-7 episodes of skin bends. Never been in the chamber (but sometimes I wonder if I should have been). Once or twice there has been visual disturbance involved and one time I had migrane aura after the dive (never had migraine before or after out of the water). Dives are mainly rec dives, with the occational light deco (less than 10 minutes). For the past six years I have been using GF30/75 on all dives.

The cardiologist says I have to give up diving. Closing the PFO is not an option, they only offer this to patients that have suffered a stroke. I had a thorough discussion with a professional dive physician about my further diving, and even though he says that diving with a PFO is doable he recommends based on my history of skin bends that I give up on diving. If I choose to continue diving I have to dive extremely conservative.

I really love diving, but I really don't want to take any chances from now on. I'm not sure if this extremely conservative way is worth it if it only gives me around 18-20 minutes on shallow depths. My mind is spinning and I am confused.
 

Divin'Papaw

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A PFO can be closed. I have a buddy that had it done. Something to consider.

EDIT: I missed the part about closing it not being an option. Why not? Who’s ‘they’? If insurance won’t pay, save and cover it yourself. I think it can be an affordable procedure.
 

kelemvor

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The cardiologist says I have to give up diving. Closing the PFO is not an option, they only offer this to patients that have suffered a stroke.
Check with another doctor.
 

BlueTrin

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I know at least one person in the UK who had it closed and who never had a stroke.

He went back diving a month ago, operation was delayed due to covid.
 

doctormike

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Not really my area of expertise, but I have a good friend who does a lot of these. He closed a PFO in a dive buddy of mine who had an inner ear hit, so that he could return to diving. I know that he's not in your area, but maybe a telemed consultation?

This is his website: PFO Doctor

Good luck!
 

Dish

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Friend of mine was bent and chambered twice before someone discovered his PFO. He had it fixed, but remains extremely conservative in depth, gas and time… something that I completely understand… so I can’t tell you if it made him a “normal” diver again. Hopefully you get a response from a cardiologist on SB or a SB member who has gone through this, but a second opinion from your own health care industry is certainly worth pursuing.
 

Imla

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Would at least consult HBcentre in Bergen, to hear about options. Know of several people in Norway that has had their PFOs fixed. Probably wouldnt dive untill fixed given your proven record of "impractical" bubble paths. Get a different cardiologist.
 

Johnoly

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My mind is spinning and I am confused.
Insurance approval to close a PFO is an 'Art' not a science. Limit your search to cardiologists who are advanced divers as your very 1st question to ask them. You'll probably have to travel to find the right one. Don't worry about your coverage plan, they'll find a way to get you approval. It's not about diving, it's about you being disabled from a stroke and in a wheel chair.
 

doctormike

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Limit your search to cardiologists who are advanced divers as your very 1st question to ask them.

Not a lot of those around, but maybe this guy will help. Doug is extremely nice, but he may not be able to reply personally. I'm sure he gets lots of these questions given his prominence in the diving community.
 

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