What is Atrial Septal Defect

  • Atrial Septal Defect or ASD in simple terms means that there is a hole in the wall between the atrial chambers. Because pressure is high in the left atrium, a little of the blood that should pass into the left ventricle leaks into the right atrium. This means that there will be more blood going into the lungs than normal. ASD's can vary in size from small to large. An ASD may be created in babies who need more oxygenated blood to flow into the right side of the heart, for example in complete transposition.

  • Sometimes a large ASD can be picked up in pregnancy by the physician. If your child’s heart condition is complex, ASD may be just one of a number of defects. The sound of extra blood moving through the right side of the heart and the pulmonary artery may be heard as a heart murmur. Most babies with ASDs don’t have health problems. Some will have more frequent chest infections, and the ASD may not be discovered until the child is older or even an adult.

  • Atrial Septal Defects that are not large ecnough do not need to be treated as they do not place strain on the heart or lungs. Atrial septal defects are usually closed by operating on the heart or using the newer transcatheter closure techniques. In the surgery method the heart is opened and the hole between the atria is closed. In most cases the surgery is low risk, but depends on other factors in the child. The other disadvantage of this method is a longer recovery period after surgery. In transcatheter technique a device is used to close the hole between the atria. The device is deployed using a catheter which is inserted in a small incision made near the grion area.

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