Rebecca J. Stahl, MA
atrial septal defect
is a hole in the wall between the 2 upper chambers (right and left atriums) of the heart. Open heart surgery can repair the hole, either by closing the hole with stitches or by placing a patch over it.
If a child is born with a hole between the upper chambers of the heart, the blood can flow backward into the right side of the heart and into the lungs. This triggers the heart to work harder. Over time, this can lead to damage to blood vessels in the lungs and
congestive heart failure. This procedure is done to fix the hole.
Most children who have this surgery will have good outcomes.
Complications are rare, but no procedure is free of risk. Possible complications may include:
Before your child's procedure, talk to the doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your child's risk of complications such as chronic disease such as diabetes or obesity.
Low birth weight or a recent infection may increase the risk of complications.
A physical exam will be done. Other tests may include:
The doctor will tell you if your child needs to stop taking medicines.
Ask the doctor when your child should stop eating or drinking before the surgery.
will be used. It will block pain and keep your child asleep through the surgery.
An incision will be made in the skin and breastbone. The chest cavity will be opened. Next, the heart will be connected to a heart-lung machine. This machine will take over the functions of the heart and lungs. The heart will be stopped to do surgery.
The pericardial sac around the heart will be opened. A small part of this sac may be removed and used to patch the hole. A cut will be made in the right atrium. A small hole will be closed with sutures. A larger hole will be covered with a patch that is made of the sac or other material. Once the defect is repaired, the incision will be cloesd. The heart will then be restarted. Once it is working fine, the heart-lung machine will not be needed. The chest cavity will be closed. Sutures will be used to close the skin.
Your child will be monitored in the intensive care unit (ICU) with the help of the following devices:
Pain or soreness during recovery will be managed with pain medication.
The usual length of stay is 5-7 days. If there are complications, your child may need to stay longer.
The hospital staff may:
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your child's chance of infection such as:
There are also steps you can take to reduce your child's chances of infection such as:
When your child returns home, do the following:
In about 6 months, the heart tissue will grow over the sutures or patch.
After your child leaves the hospital, call your doctor if any of the following occurs:
Call for medical help or go to the emergency room right away if any of the following occurs in your child:
In case of an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Heart Association
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Heart and Stroke Foundation
Atrial septal defect (ASD). Cardiothoracic Surgery website. Available at:
http://www.cts.usc.edu/atrialseptaldefect.html. Accessed June 29, 2015.
Atrial septal defect. Children’s Hospital Boston website. Available at:
http://www.childrenshospital.org/az/Site477/mainpageS477P0.html. Accessed June 29, 2015.
Open-heart surgery. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital website. Available at:
http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/health/heart-encyclopedia/treat/surg/open.htm. Updated June 2015. Accessed June 29, 2015.
Atrial septal defect. Cove Point Foundation website. Available at:
http://www.pted.org/?id=atrialseptal4. Updated May 16, 2011. Accessed June 29, 2015.
Atrial septal defect. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at:
http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/heart/asd.html. Accessed May 2013. Accessed June 29, 2015.
Last reviewed June 2015 by Michael J. Fucci, DO
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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