ASD-Atrial Septal Defect
The normal heart has four chambers. The two top chambers receive blood from the body and lungs. These chambers are called the atria. The two bottom chambers pump blood to the body and lungs. These are called the ventricles. These chambers are separated by walls known as the atrial septum and ventricular septum.
Atrial Septal Defect
An atrial septal defect (ASD) is a congenital heart defect. It is present at birth. This type of defect is a hole in the wall (septum) between the right and left atria. This hole allows blood to flow across from the left side, where the pressure is high, to the right side, where the pressure is lower.
These defects may vary in size. They may be present in many places in the atrial wall. Rarely, a person may have more than one of these.
Signs and Symptoms
Sometimes an abnormal heart sound is heard during a routine exam. You will be referred to a cardiologist for further testing. Your child will most likely be healthy and have no symptoms as a result of this defect.
A member of the health care team will do a complete exam and a health history.
An ultrasound of the heart is called an echocardiogram. It may be done to confirm the presence of the defect. It is also done to find the site and the size of the defect. If the ASD is large, then the right upper chamber of the heart may become enlarged.
Your child should continue to get regular check-ups with your regular doctor. We may suggest that your child return to the Pediatric Cardiology clinic at times. These visits may only be as often as every year or two.
Children with atrial septal defects have no restrictions. They should keep on leading healthy, normal lives.
Some ASDs close on their own and require no further treatment.
The reasons to repair an ASD include right sided heart enlargement and a chance for heart rhythm problems later on in life. Your child’s treatment options will be based on the size and the site of the ASD.
There are two ways to repair an atrial septal defect. One way is with a cardiac catheterization. This includes general anesthesia. A catheter is inserted into a large blood vessel in the leg. It goes up into the heart. A device, shaped like a dumbbell, is inserted to plug up the hole. Only certain ASDs can be closed with this device. This often includes staying in the hospital for one night.
Another way to close the ASD is with open-heart surgery. A pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon would discuss this with you. This would include staying in the hospital for 3-5 nights.
There are risks and benefits with both the cardiac catheterization and open-heart surgery. Your doctor will discuss this with you and your child.
Who Do I Call With Questions?
Your child’s doctor or nurse or our clinic staff can answer any questions.
Pediatric Cardiology (608) 263-6420.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 05/16/2012
Copyright © 05/16/2012 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6864
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