Continue or stop diving with a PFO?

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Superlyte27

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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.
Talk to Dr. Doug Ebersole from Florida. He’s fixed more pfo’s for divers than anyone and he’s a technical diver and instructor. Most insurance will cover it if it diminishes your lifestyle ie…diving
 

Imla

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OP Is in Norway... Very few people have "healtinsurance" as you do in US. Public health care will cover normal needs, however closure of PFO is usually not considered needed if all the op has to do is quit diving for the PFO to not be an issue. So... American docs/coverage plans and the likes might not be very helpful...
 
OP
Frogman82

Frogman82

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Exactly. Talked to one of the (if not THE) most recognized dive physicians here in Norway, who told me to stop. Public health care system will not do this procedure and I don't think there is any private clinics here that do closing of PFO's either.
 

Jonn

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Sounds like your screwed. My sister had to give up diving because of ear issues. She went to school to be an instructor and did really well, but when she started working steady she just couldn’t equalize. Surgical widening of her tubes wasn’t an option either. Sometimes our bodies just can’t take us where we want to go; there’s lots of cool things to see on the surface of Norway too.
 

stepfen

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Just to give some alternatives to the OP. The owner of the LDS (trimix CCR etc instructor) who has been doing demanding dives for years got a hit last year. After investigating it, he was diagnosed with PFO. Within weeks he had it fixed. Operation took place in Athens/Greece and within few months he was able to continue his passion (and business).
I don't know details, but I think the cost of the operation was few thousand euros (6 if not mistaken) and it was covered by his (professional) insurance. There was a term that the insurance would not cover preexisting conditions unless the person was not aware of them.
Op if you want let me know and I can bring you guys in contact or ask him the contact details of the doctor.
All the best
 

clownfishsydney

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Get a second opinion. My ex-wife had a bad skin bend/breast bend and have PFO fixed. Easy really. I know quite a few people who have had fixed.

Alternative, use Nitrox and set air on computer.
 

taimen

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I had a TEE screening done on Monday and it revealed a PFO.

Why did you have a TEE screening done (only bends or also other suspicion of underlying heart conditions?
Of course that might be personal information you might not want to share online.
Anyway that indication probably includes a lot of information needed when deciding how to manage this. I guess all nordic public healthcare typically advice to quit diving instead of invasive procedures if diving is not professional.
 

Angelo Farina

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I suppose that the public health system in Norway is in some way similar to other European countries.
I am in Italy, and in cases as yours the recommended action is to go the Hyperbaric Center in Ravenna:
This is a private structure, but also working under convention with the public health system.
So I suggest that you take some days of holidays, make a nice trip to Italy, have some good food and wine, visit some historical towns (Ravenna is very nice, and Venice is quite close)
After the visit from some of the best hyperbaric doctors here in Europe you will be given a number of options, either free or for some reasonable cost, and you will decide what to do.
In any case, continuing diving "as before" in your situation looks too risky for me.
 

Joris Vd

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I'd contact some hospitals in Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, But be prepared, the cost of these procedures could be staggering without payback.

Often they might tell you they don't offer it, but that only means, 'your healthcare doesn't pay it back'. It's the same in almost any hospital in Europe.
 
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