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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Following on from another post here, what are peoples opinions on going to your GP and asking for a PFO check?
Im just starting to get into deeper diving 30-50m range and starting to build up some deco time.
I was just wondering would people recommend getting a check? or is it not an issue until you get a bend?
 

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So long and thanks for all the fish!
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First, I'd recomend seriously considering what you'd do if you do have one. Do you give up diving? Do you have it closed? Do you have any other reasons to think you may have one? (ie aural migraines)

I had the test after my second bend where there wasn't any obvious cause. Had a large shunt and have since had it closed. :)
 

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Rich D
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I was told by the chamber doc to expect some resistance from my gp to get me checked, and to stress the professional aspect (I'm a DM) of my diving. However I found my GP perfectly happy to refer me, and when the result came back positive, again he was happy to refer me to the hospital the consultant recommended. I'm told that around 25% of us have them...

I'm also told that apart from the PFO my heart is in excellent condition - so not all bad news.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
No, Iv no other problems, and no reason to suspect I have one...I presumed all PFOs were treatable...and I just presumed I would get it closed.
 

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Having a PFO is not the whole story. I'd not look for one until and if you have reason AND you have considered what you would do IF one is found AND how big it is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
But is there a fear of it affecting me at 6m when im on a deco stop? Or does it always wait until back on the surface to affect?
 

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But is there a fear of it affecting me at 6m when im on a deco stop? Or does it always wait until back on the surface to affect?
I knew i was bent when i was on my 6m deco stop. However, I don't have a PFO - my test was negative. The second bend wasn't apparent until much later in the day, and I didn't pick up the signs until the following day.

You won't get bent if you don't have the bubbly blood to shunt if you do have a PFO.
 

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Hi.

Question?.

Do new divers still have to have a medical when they first learn to dive, it could be a good time to be tested at this point before too much disappointment is generated by learning, diving for a few years and then finding out you have a problem. With self certification there is no way to pick up any health problems anymore.. Sandra having one of her diving medicals for BSAC by a doctor friend of ours, had an examination where the doctor found lumps on her womb, she told Sandra go to your doctor and get it checked and sure enough there was a problem, she ended up having an hysterectomy which saved her life.. I think it is best to know about any potential problems and not hope you haven't got any, at least that way you can make informed decisions.
 

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Hi.

Question?.

Do new divers still have to have a medical when they first learn to dive, it could be a good time to be tested at this point before too much disappointment is generated by learning, diving for a few years and then finding out you have a problem. With self certification there is no way to pick up any health problems anymore.. Sandra having one of her diving medicals for BSAC by a doctor friend of ours, had an examination where the doctor found lumps on her womb, she told Sandra go to your doctor and get it checked and sure enough there was a problem, she ended up having an hysterectomy which saved her life.. I think it is best to know about any potential problems and not hope you haven't got any, at least that way you can make informed decisions.
A pfo test is not part of any standard medical, and is a sledge hammer to crack a nut if it was a requirement.

They are expensive, one sort is intrusive, and unless there is a medical reason to have one done, probably way over the top for most people.
 

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I've attended a couple of talks on PFOs and discussed it with DDRC. My understanding is as follows:

(1) there is a significant possibility of PFOs being missed by the test;
(2) even if you have a PFO, it doesn't necessarily mean it will cause you a problem;
(3) if you have a PFO closure procedure, there's a significant chance it won't work.
(4) even if your PFO closure works, you may still find you're 'bendy' because there might be some other reason for it.

With these four factors taken into account, the concensus is that it's completely pointless to screen people for PFOs - the potential benefits are outweighed by the costs/risks. If you're a control-freak, this isn't good news as you're now in a position where you only find out I've got a PFO if you get an 'undeserved' bend. However, that's just the way it is - even if you have the PFO test, you still haven't eliminated that as a possibility.

(In my case, I did end up having a PFO check after I developed an 'undeserved' problem. I didn't have a PFO as best they could tell, and the problem - tinnitus - turned out to be caused by equalising my ears too hard.)
 

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PADI Internet Specialty Diver
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If you go to the doc and ask for one you can forget it. You will have to go private. All the above comments are on the money - it's not a "routine" thing and there are all sorts of issues it raises.

My missus managed to get one on the NHS as she has migranes. It was a PITA and the hospital didn't know jack about the procedure. It really is something that is very, very specialist. The first procedure she got booked up for was the wrong one and it took about 3 months to get it all sorted out. One of the pricks (I shall refrain from calling it a "doctor") half way through the test said in a loud voice "what a waste of money". I guess with a huge medical device down your throat and your tits wobbling about all over the place it would have been hard to punch the twat but then my missus is much too nice to do that anyway :angel:

Go diving my friend and just enjoy. I hope you never have to have this test, nor ever have DCI.
 

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Just a note.... there are two tests:

1 - Bubble test - a bubble test consists of injecting a solution which has bubbles in it into a vein in your left arm. While that is being done, there is an ultrasound being done of your heart. This will be done a few times. The first 'at rest' then while sniffing and then while doing valsalva. Each may be repeated if necessary to watch the route the bubbles take while going through your heart.

2 - TOE (Transoesophageal echocardiogram) is where an ultrasound on a tube (about the size of a middle finger) is put down your throat so that ultrasound images can be taken of the heart from the inside and so are much clearer as the ribs, etc are not interfering with the imaging.

Neither one is fun and I think that the TOE is VILE!!!

Oh, if you decide to go private and pay for it a bubble test can set you back around £640 depending on where you go. (I only know because BUPA tried to get me to pay it).

If you have private medical - it is luck of the draw if they will cover the procedure or not. In my case BUPA decided it was a congenital condition and was therefore not covered but I know someone with the same cover who had theirs done with them.
 

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loop14
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I had a big PFO fixed after a nasty type 2 bend. The doctor and then the surgeon both said the the procedure was to make a stroke less likely. They both agreed that the likelihood of a stroke was high with a hole of the size that mine was. The NHS are not interested in getting you back diving they are, at times, interested in keeping you out of the mini-moke wards.
 
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