Atrioventricular Septal Defect (AVSD)

Early treatment with medicine may be necessary if your child’s heart is not coping and they are in ‘heart failure’. This can mean that the lungs have become heavy or ‘wet’ with fluid and you may notice your child is working harder to breathe. A careful check will be kept on their breathing and weight as an increase can be due to fluid retention. He or she may need medicines to get rid of the extra fluid – diuretics.

If your baby has a complete AVSD, the blood pressure in the lungs will be high (pulmonary hypertension), and an operation will be needed before irreparable damage is caused to the lungs.

This is open heart surgery – the heart will need to be stopped and opened to repair it. This means that a machine will have to take over the job that the heart normally does – the heart bypass machine.  

The aim of the operation is to make the circulation of blood through the heart and lungs normal, so a patch is put over the holes between the atria and ventricles, and the valve is divided, so that there are two effective valves.

If your child has other heart defects, the kind of surgery needed will depend on how the heart can best be modified to cope with all the problems he or she has.

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 only 10 to 12 days, of which one or two will be spent in the intensive care and high dependency unit. Of course this depends on how well your child is before and after the surgery, and whether any complications arise.

More about Atrioventricular Septal Defect (AVSD)

Author(s): Children’s Heart Federation
Last updated: 2009-12-09