Commonly Asked Questions

Below are some commonly asked questions about Atrial Septal Defect.

An atrial septal defect (ASD) is the name given to a hole in the atrial septum or muscle wall that separates the left and right atria, which are the upper chambers of the heart. Because of the lower pressure in the right atrium, this hole typically allows oxygenated blood from the lungs to move, or shunt, from the left into the right atrium. This blood proceeds into the right ventricle, which pumps it back to the lungs rather than to the body.
Children with atrial septal defects (ASD) are usually slender in build and have a heart murmur caused by the extra blood flow due to the defect. They may experience shortness of breath or heart palpitations. Such children can be normally active, show no other outward symptoms, and aren't restricted from exercise.

Children with larger defects are more likely to have symptoms. Infants with a large ASD may develop congestive heart failure, but a defect smaller than 2 millimeters has a high probability that it will close on its own. Surgery usually is not indicated for such cases.

Larger ASDs which may not close cause excessive blood flow, which can increase the size of the right atrium, and cause high pressures that may distort the shape of the pulmonary artery. An enlarged right atrium can result in abnormal heart rhythms and the effects cannot be reversed by closing the ASD. Untreated ASD can result in heart failure in young adulthood and can eventually lead to pulmonary hypertension, which is a life-threatening complication.
ASDs may be closed surgically or less invasively by use of catheters.

Surgically, an ASD may be closed by patching or suturing the defect during open heart surgery. The most commonly used patch is a piece of pericardium (the membrane covering the heart). Sutures are monofilament thread made of Prolene or Polyproplyene.

Alternatively, after the size of the ASD has been determined, a septal occluder can be introduced into the ASD to close the hole using a catheter guided through a vein from the groin.
Women with atrial septal defects (ASDs) are usually able to bear children without difficulty, however anyone with congenital heart disease, repaired or non-repaired, should consult with their cardiologist and review the risks before trying to get pregnant.

It is common for ASDs to be first diagnosed during pregnancy because of the development of heart murmurs and other breathing issues. It is better to repair ASDs before pregnancy to avoid complications caused by blood clots, which may cause strokes or heart failure.
Normal physical activity is okay after repairing of an atrial septal defect (ASD) as long as pulmonary artery blood pressure remains acceptably low. However restrictions will be necessary if the right ventricle is significantly enlarged, if there is pulmonary hypertension, or untreated arrhythmia.

If you have had an ASD repaired or have congenital heart disease (repaired or non-repaired), it is best to consult with a cardiologist to review risks before beginning an exercise program.
An atrial septal defect (ASD) is an opening between the upper two chambers of the heart.

After birth, an ASD causes blood from the left atrium to move into the right atrium, causing excessive blood to flow through the lungs. If this flow, otherwise known as “shunting” is significant enough, resistance to flow develops in the lung. This results in a gradual reversal of deoxygenated blood from the right to the left atrium, and subsequently through the body. This further causes cyanosis, where the body doesn't get properly oxygenated blood. The result is early fatigue and congestive heart failure.
An atrial septal defect (ASD), a congenital defect, is an opening between two chambers (atria) of your heart. They can cause “shunting” – excessive flow of blood through the lungs. In turn, this can cause cyanosis, where inadequately oxygenated blood can cause early fatigue and subsequently, congestive heart failure.

Small ASDs can often be followed without surgery if they cause minimal shunting. Larger ASDs are closed surgically by simply sewing them closed, or placing a patch of your own tissue or a synthetic material (such as Dacron) over it. They can also be fixed in the cardiac catheterization laboratory using an occluding device.
An atrial septal defect (ASD) is a congenital defect where there is an opening in the wall between chambers (atria) of the heart. ASD is repaired surgically with the use of the cardiopulmonary bypass, or a heart-lung machine, which allows the surgeon to safely open up the right chamber of your heart and access the defect in a relatively bloodless field. Your heart might be stopped for 10-20 minutes during the procedure. 

Repairing your ASD can range from a relatively simple operation to a more complex one depending on the location, size, and characteristics of the defect.

The total operation time of an ASD repair ranges from one to three hours.
An atrial septal defect (ASD) is a congenital defect where there is an opening in the wall between chambers (atria) of the heart. There are minimally invasive approaches to fixing an atrial septal defect, but it depends on the size, shape, and location of the defect. A small defect can be conservatively followed without surgery. But a larger one does need surgery.

The most common surgical approach requires the surgeon to open the breastbone and spread the edges for direct access to the heart. There are several minimally invasive surgical options available depending on the type of ASD and the specifics of the patient’s anatomy. Options include a mini-thoracotomy, partial sternotomy (or partially opening the breast-bone), and robotic approaches. 

A mini-thoracotomy consists of a three-inch incision made through the right side of the chest between the ribs. The heart-lung bypass, required to stop the heart long enough for the surgeon to close the defect, is instituted with small tubes placed in the main artery and vein of the leg through a one to two inch incision placed in the right groin crease. The heart will then be stopped and the right atrium opened to expose the ASD. At this point, the surgeon will insert specialized instruments through the incision to repair the defect. Once the defect is repaired, the heart will be closed and restarted. The heart-lung machine is disconnected and the incision is closed.

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