Département de cardiologie, hôpital Bichat, 46 rue Huchard, 75018 Paris
Identification of patent foramen ovale (PFO) is important in different clinical situations, especially unexplained stroke in young adults. This review examine the different echocardiographic techniques for identification of PFO. The transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) with agitated saline contrast maneuver is considered the “gold standard” technique for the detection of PFO. However, the limitations of this technique should be known, especially the possibility of false negative studies. Recent studies have shown that detection of PFO with harmonic TTE is as sensitive as TEE and should be used in first line in association with TEE. Echocardiography, especially TEE, gives also information about shunting characteristics, size of the PFO and the presence of associated atrial septal aneurysm (ASA). This information may help to identify patients at higher risk of recurrence of cerebral events.