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Diving with Medical Condition PFO

Discussion in 'Divers with Disabilities' started by dhkalb, Jul 5, 2010.

  1. Dr. Doug Ebersole

    Dr. Doug Ebersole Instructor, Scuba

    No, my recommendations are the same today as back then as there is no new data to suggest a new approach. I still feel recreational divers who are found incidentally to have a PFO can safely dive. They, like all divers, should practice conservative diving with slow ascents, safety stops, etc. On the other hand, if a diver has had multiple "unexpected" DCS events and is found to have a large PFO, I feel it is reasonable (though admittedly controversial in the medical community) to offer closure to those divers. I have personally closed about 25 divers with multple "unexpected" DCS events and, anecdotally, they are doing well. However, these are still anecdotes and not data. What we need is good research information which is what Dr. Denoble and I are doing with the DAN-sponsored PFO study.
    lv2dive, TSandM and uncfnp like this.
  2. MooreaMike

    MooreaMike Registered

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Michigan, USA
    I am also wondering if there are any adaptive steps which should be taken, such as depth limits, bottom times, enriched air recommendations, etc.??
  3. Dr. Doug Ebersole

    Dr. Doug Ebersole Instructor, Scuba

    Diving conservatively is always a good idea, especially with a known PFO. The problem is the bubbles, not the PFO itself. Anything you can do to decrease nitrogen bubble formation is a good idea -- no decompression diving, rich nitrox mixes (as allowed by MOD), prolonged safety stops, etc.
  4. pancakes74

    pancakes74 Registered

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Portland, OR
    I'm so glad to find this thread. I was also recently diagnosed with a PFO (grade 5+ after valsalva, 0 at rest). I'm going in for a TEE to make sure it's not an ASD but my cardio suspects it's just a PFO. He did advise me not to dive unless I had it repaired but after doing some further reading I don't see any reason to have the procedure done.. or to stop diving. I was just certified in April and will only be going a few times per year during our Maui vacations. You can't keep a mermaid out of the water :wink:
  5. uncfnp

    uncfnp Solo Diver ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: North Carolina
    Pancakes74. Curious why you were checked for a PFO.
  6. wpotere

    wpotere Registered

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: Vicenza Italy
    So I had surgery for atrial fibrillation (ablation) back in June of this year. My wife and I had been wanting to dive and on my last appointment with the cardiologist, I informed him that this was the case. He immediately told me that this was a bad idea and that I shouldn't do it as I have a PFO. So, I have been researching the heck out of this trying to find out if this is really a big issue for someone who will be doing recreational diving only. Everything I have read aligns with Dr. Ebersole's recommendations and I am comfortable with that. This being said, I have a few questions for anyone who might be currently diving with a known PFO.

    I am a complete beginner with only one dive when I was much younger.

    1. Is the data Dr. Ebersole provided still relevant? It is several years old and I just want to make sure there isn't anything new that I might has missed.
    2. We plan to start indoor pool this winter (Y-40 here in Italy) which will be controlled. Is there anything I should watch out for? Symptoms etc...
    3. Has anyone here been successfully diving with a known PFO with no problems?

    I guess this is more nerves than anything at this point but my cardiologist did not make it sound like I should even entertain this without closing the PFO.

    Just to clarify, I have been cleared physically for all other exercise (I am a cyclist as well). It is just the PFO that is the concern.
  7. Edward3c

    Edward3c Instructor, Scuba

    I've know a few serious divers have, after a DCI hit, had their PFO fixed by surgery and continue to dive.
  8. wpotere

    wpotere Registered

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: Vicenza Italy
    That is good new for sure. I am trying to avoid having surgery again if possible. I know that mine was there as a kid as the doc told me it was already open when they went in, so I did dive with it that way once before.

    So it helped with limiting the possibility of DCI? I tired to ask my cardiologist some questions regarding this, but he is Italian and I am American. My Italian is sadly lacking, especially when it comes to medicine which makes it hard to get solid answers.

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