When a person has abnormal holes in his or her heart - a condition known as atrial septal defect and patent foramen ovale - a transcatheter closure device can help close them up. The device is often used on babies and adults and avoids open-heart surgery.
The transcatheter closure device - typically a single or double wire frame covered by fabric - is placed in the heart through a catheter (tube) that is inserted through a vein in the groin.
Half of the device is connected to one side of the atrial septum (wall between the two upper chambers of the heart), and the other half of the device is attached to the other side of the atrial septum, forming a sort of "sandwich" of the hole in the heart.
Within six to eight weeks, the device acts as a skeleton, stimulating normal tissue to grow in and over the hole. These devices can be safely used in growing children because while the device does not grow, the tissue that covers the device does, and will continue to grow with the child.