Atrial Septal Defect

In some cases, the ASD will close over time and no treatment will be necessary. If doctors think this is going to happen, they will monitor the ASD to make sure it is getting smaller and not affecting the child’s health in any way.

If treatment is necessary, there are two options. The first option is to close the ASD using open heart surgery. This is open heart surgery, which means that the heart will need to be stopped and opened to repair it. A heart bypass machine will take over the job that the heart normally does. The aim of the operation is to make the circulation of blood through the heart and lungs normal. This is done by placing a patch over the hole between the atria.

For most children this surgery is low risk, but it can depend on how well your child is otherwise. The doctors will discuss risks with you in detail before asking you to consent to the operation. The length of time in hospital will usually be about a week, depending on how well the child is otherwise.

The other treatment option is catheter intervention. This procedure uses a catheter (tube), which is passed through a vein into the heart. The ASD is then sealed by inserting a device through it and withdrawing the catheter. When the catheter is withdrawn, the device opens on both sides of the hole to close it.

This procedure is not regarded as surgery and your child would not have to be in intensive care afterwards. They would probably spend two or three days in hospital afterwards and should not have any scars.

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Author(s): Children’s Heart Federation
Last updated: 2009-12-08