PFO: diagnosis and treatment

Do you suspect you have PFO? Do you want to be sure you can carry on diving safely?

Thanks to twenty years of experience in diving the Ravenna Hyperbaric Centre, has developed a diagnosis and treatment pathway that allows you to diagnose with absolute certainty the presence and relevance of Patent Foramen Ovale.

To this end, as well as to meet the needs of those coming from outside Ravenna, a package that includes the analyses, diagnosis, and a visit Dr. Pasquale Longobardi with a final assessment and possible treatment pathway has been assembled.

The analysis and the appointment with Dr. Pasquale Longobardi are carried out in one day.

The analysis pathway includes:

  • trans cranial Doppler with sonographic contrast, with measurement of the bubbles passing into the neck vessels from both sides: with up to twenty bubbles, the problem is minor
  • blood gas analysis whilst breathing in pure oxygen with a high flow mask. A partial pressure of oxygen in arterial blood greater than 400 millimeters of mercury is within the normal range, a lower pressure confirms the presence of a "hole" in the circulatory system and allows an indication of how big it is
  • trans cutaneous oximetry to validate the blood gas analysis data.


If you decide to proceed with the closure of the PFO, the following examinations are included:

  • transesophageal echocardiography
  • computerized pulmonary angiotomography, to exclude "holes" and vascular malformations in the lung (performed in cases where trans esophageal echocardiography discloses a hole smaller than the other, previously detected values).


Treatment pathways for divers after PFO closure

In cases where the PFO is closed, it is suggested that a program of controlled dives for rehabilitation purposes should begin after the first test with trans thoracic Doppler ultrasound, one month after surgery. Six months after the closure, a final appointment is scheduled for the  go-ahead for diving, within the limits dictated by the clinical notes.

To book the PFO diagnosis and therapy package, call +39 0544 500152, or send an email to:

For those coming from outside Ravenna, you can stay in the hotel affiliated with the Ravenna Hyperbaric Centre. Ask the Secretary for information, and check the list of our partner hotels.