Simple (ASD, VSD, PFO)
Some congenital cardiovascular defects let blood flow between the heart's
right and left chambers. This happens when a baby is born with an opening
between the wall (septum) that separates the right and left sides of the
heart. This defect is sometimes called "a hole in the heart."
Atrial septal defect (ASD) — An opening exists between the heart's two upper chambers. This
lets some blood from the left atrium (blood that's already been to
the lungs) return via the hole to the right atrium instead of flowing
through the left ventricle, out the aorta and to the body. Many children
with ASD have few, if any, symptoms. Closing the atrial defect by open-heart
surgery in childhood can prevent serious problems later in life.
Ventricular septal defect (VSD) — An opening exists between the heart's two lower chambers. Some
blood that's returned from the lungs and been pumped into the left
ventricle flows to the right ventricle through the hole instead of being
pumped into the aorta. Because the heart has to pump extra blood and is
overworked, it may enlarge.
Patent foramen ovale (PFO) — is a hole in the wall that separates the two upper chambers of
the heart known as the right atrium and left atrium. The hole can be located
in various locations in the wall (the septum).
If the opening is small, it doesn't strain the heart. In that case,
the only abnormal finding is a loud murmur. But if the opening is large,
open-heart surgery is recommended to close the hole and prevent serious
problems. Some babies with a large ventricular septal defect don't
grow normally and may become undernourished. Babies with VSD may develop
severe symptoms or high blood pressure in their lungs. Repairing a ventricular
septal defect with surgery usually restores normal blood circulation.
The long-term outlook is good, but long-term follow-up is required.
People with unrepaired ventricular septal defects are at risk for getting
an infection of the heart's walls or valves (endocarditis). After
a VSD has been successfully fixed with surgery, antibiotics should no
longer be needed. If surgery or other procedures do not completely repair
the VSD, the person is still at risk for developing endocarditis. Please
see the section on “Endocarditis” at left to determine whether
your child will need to take antibiotics before certain dental