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Ventricular Septal Defect

Pediatric Heart Care

Ventricular Septal Defect

Contact Information

(608) 263-6420


Health Facts for You

Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) - Moderate to Large

Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) - Small

A ventricular septal defect (VSD) is an opening in the wall between the right and left ventricle. If the defect is not repaired, oxygen-rich blood from the left ventricle flows through the opening and mixes with oxygen-poor blood in the right ventricle. 

Concerns and Symptoms
VSD causes the heart and lungs to handle more blood than normal. This is particularly serious in VSD because the ventricles are the heart's two high-pressure chambers.
The extra blood can increase the pressure in the lung's blood vessels, a condition called pulmonary hypertension. Because of the extra blood flowing through the heart, the right side of the heart may enlarge, become damaged, and be less able to pump blood effectively. The child may then develop congestive heart failure.
Children with larger VSDs will often exhibit symptoms within one to two months after birth. Symptoms include fatigue, sweating, rapid, heavy, or congested breathing, difficulty feeding and poor weight gain. If a VSD is detected in an infant, it is usually treated with medication first. Surgery is usually performed when the child is eight to 12 months old.

The operation to repair a VSD is performed under general anesthesia, which means the child will be asleep during surgery.
First the surgeon makes a vertical incision in the front of the chest, opens the breastbone and exposes the heart. Blood from the heart is redirected to a bypass machine. The bypass machine does the job of the heart and lungs during the operation.
The surgeon then opens the heart and identifies the defect. He cuts a small piece of Gore-Tex in the size and shape of the defect, and uses this as a patch. After the defect is repaired and the heart closed, the surgeon shuts down the heart-lung bypass machine, and the heart starts beating again. The surgeon then closes the breastbone and chest incision and applies bandages to the incision site.

A Tale of a Little Girl and Her Heart

This story begins with 3-year-old Kennedy's sick ailing heart, which was the result of a Ventricular Septal Defect. Like all good bedtime stories, Kennedy's has a happy ending. Aside from a check-up with pediatric cardiology every few years, she should live happily ever after. Meet Kennedy