This procedure, usually performed by the time a child reaches school age, is used to repair an atrial septal defect. The defect occurs in the wall between the heart's two atrial chambers, creating abnormal blood flow. The surgery involves closing the hole with a patch.
After the surgeon opens the chest to expose the heart, the patient's blood flow is diverted to a heart-lung machine. The machine temporarily takes over the lung's function of oxygenating blood and the heart's function of pumping blood to the body.
The right atrium is opened to allow the surgeon to access the hole. The hole is then closed with a patch of prosthetic material or tissue harvested from the patient. Small holes can occasionally be closed using only sutures. Closing the hole keeps the heart from mixing oxygen-rich blood with oxygen-poor blood.
The patient is removed from the heart-lung machine. The chest is closed and a drainage tube is placed to drain any fluid from around the heart. Most patients are in the hospital for 3-7 days. These patients will need lifelong follow-up with a cardiologist to ensure that no further issues develop, but for most patients no further surgeries or medications will be needed.
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.