Relationship Between Migraine and Patent Foramen Ovale: A Study of 121 Patients with Migraine


  • Izabela Domitrz MD, PhD,

  • Jerzy Mieszkowski MD,

  • Anna Kamińska MD, PhD

  • From the Department of Neurology, Medical University, Warsaw, Poland (Drs. Domitrz and Kamińska); Department of Neurology CSK MSWiA Hospital, Warsaw, Poland (Dr. Mieszkowski).

Address all correspondence to Dr. Izabela Domitrz, Department of Neurology, Warsaw Medical, University, 1a Banacha Street, 02-097 Warsaw, Poland.


Background.—Migraine is a common neurological disorder, the origins of which remain unknown. Patent foramen ovale (PFO) is considered to have a role in migraine. The relationship between migraine and patent foramen ovale may be stronger in patients suffering from migraine with aura compared to patients with common migraine.

Objectives.—The aim of the study was to evaluate the frequency of PFO in patients with migraine with aura (MA+) and compare it with the prevalence of PFO in migraine patients without aura (MA−), and in a healthy age-matched control group. We investigated PFO association with migraine, considering such factors as: A type of migraine aura, frequency of attacks, familial occurrence, sex and age of patients.

Patients.—121 patients: 61 patients suffering from migraine with aura, 60 without aura and 65 normal controls. The group of patients with migraine with aura was divided into subgroups regarding to the type of aura.

Methods.—In order to detect PFO the contrast transcranial Doppler was performed during Valsalva maneuver.

Results.—The presence of PFO was found in 33/61 (54%) patients with MA(+) compared to 15/60 (25%) without aura and 16/65 (25%) control subjects. The difference between MA(+) patients and MA(−) patients and the difference between MA(+) patients and control group was statistically significant (P < .05). There was no association between type of migraine aura and PFO, as well as we found no association between PFO and frequency of attacks, familial occurrence, sex and age of patients and PFO.

Conclusions.—Our findings suggest possible association of migraine with aura and PFO. It seems that PFO does not influence the type of aura and frequency of attacks of migraine as well as it is not associated with familial occurrence of migraine.