A new study involving divers with patent foramen ovale (PFO) is under way. A joint venture between Divers Alert Network® (DAN®) and Dr. Douglas Ebersole, an interventional cardiologist at the Watson Clinic in Lakeland, Fla., the purpose of the study is to establish who is better off: divers who dive with an open PFO or divers who have undergone the closure procedure.
DAN is currently enrolling participants in the study, and interested candidates are invited to contact DAN. Participants must be at least 18 years of age, certified divers with medical clearance to dive, and should either have received a PFO diagnosis or undergone a transcatheter PFO closure within the last five years.
Qualified participants will complete a diving history questionnaire and provide medical documentation on their PFO diagnosis or closure procedures. Participants can continue diving on their own schedule, though they will be required to maintain a dive log and share data with researchers. Each participant will be enrolled for a minimum period of two years but will be asked to participate for the full five years the study will run.
PFO is more common than most people know; up to 25 percent of adults have a PFO, though most never know it. Divers with PFO are considered at an increased risk of DCS, but their risk is still small. Despite the risk being small, some divers with PFO opt for closure, even though the closure procedure itself carries some risks. The DAN/Ebersole project is the first-ever prospective study to examine whether or not divers benefit from PFO closure.
“The question of whether or not to recommend closure of PFO in divers is highly controversial,” said Dr. Petar Denoble, DAN senior research director. “The fact is that data on the risk/benefit analysis is simply not available, so we’re going in search of that answer.”
Divers can read all about the PFO debate in the next issue of Alert Diver, due to arrive in mailboxes in the next few weeks. Case studies illustrating the debate will also be highlighted on AlertDiver.com.
For additional information or to apply to participate, please contact Petar Denoble at (919) 684-2948, ext. 261.