What is a Septal Defect?
Also referred to as a “hole or flap in the heart," a septal defect involves blood improperly flowing between the heart's left and right chambers because of an opening in the wall that separates the two sides (the septum). There are several types of septal defects.
- Atrial septal defect (ASD) occurs when an abnormal opening occurs between the two upper chambers of the heart, the left and the right atrium. This defect allows blood to flow back into the lungs
- Ventricular septal defect (VSD) occurs when the opening is between the two lower chambers of the heart, the left and the right ventricle. This defect allows blood to flow back into the right ventricle instead of into the aorta.
- Eisenmenger's Complex is a septal defect along with high blood pressure in the lungs that may also include a wrongly positioned aorta.
- Atrioventricular canal defect occurs when the opening is between the upper and lower chambers of the heart, creating improper blood flows from the lungs.
- Patent foramen ovale (PFO) is a flap between the top two chambers of the heart (the atria). Up to 25% of the world's population has a PFO. For a small number of people, this should be repaired.
Symptoms of Septal Defect
Some people have no symptoms. In the other cases, symptoms can include:
- Slow growth
- High blood pressure in the lungs
- Shortness of breath
- Heart murmur
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UR Medicine's Treatments for Septal Defect
Treatment depends on the severity of the defect. If treatment is required, nonsurgical (percutaneous) repair or surgical repair of the opening is typically successful in restoring normal circulation.
The Structural Heart Program at UR Medicine Cardiac Care excels at nonsurgical ASD and PFO repair. To determine best treatment you may need to undergo an echocardiogram and/or a cardiac catheterization.
During the procedure, a closure device is attached to a catheter which is inserted and advanced to the heart and through the defect with the guidance of X-ray and intracardiac echo imaging. The cardiologist pushes the closure device out of the catheter slowly so that it opens to cover each edge of the defect, sealing it closed. Over time, scar tissue grows over the closure device and it becomes part of the heart.
Arrhythmia Stopped her Heart
Brynn Taylor was born with a rare, life-threatening heart defect. Weighing just 2 pounds at birth, Brynn would need to wait until she weighed 5 pounds to have open-heart surgery at UR Medicine's Golisano Children's Hospital.
What Sets Us Apart?
Structural heart disease is complex. Treating it requires a deep understanding of your condition as well as the range of treatment options. That’s why UR Medicine offers the Structural Heart Program, completely focused on treating structural and heart valve disease.
We offer a multidisciplinary team of providers who specializes in percutaneous and surgical treatments. UR Medicine can also provide every other specialist you may need, including echo-cardiologists, radiologists, and specialists in heart failure, oncology, pulmonology and our congenital cardiac care.
As the only institution in the area that is part of an academic medical center, UR Medicine Cardiac Care is involved in the latest treatment and research on septal defects.
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