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Surgery for Ventricular Septal Defect

Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.

A small VSD may close on its own as your child grows. Some small defects don’t close on their own, but they still don’t need treatment. A larger VSD often needs to be fixed with surgery or through cardiac catheterization. Once a child is diagnosed with a VSD, his or her heart doctor will check the defect regularly to see if it’s closing on its own.

Medicine

Some children may need to take medicine to help the heart work better. Children without symptoms may not need medicine.

Adequate nutrition

Infants with a larger VSD may get tired when feeding. They may not be able to eat enough to gain weight. They may need:

  • High-calorie formula or breastmilk. Your child may need nutritional supplements added to his or her formula or pumped breastmilk. This increases the number of calories in each ounce.
  • Supplemental tube feedings. Your child may need to be fed through a small, flexible tube. This tube passes through the nose, down the esophagus, and into the stomach. Your child may have tube feedings along with or in place of bottle feedings. Infants who can drink part of their bottles may be fed the rest through a feeding tube. Infants who are too tired to bottle-feed may get all of their nutrition through the feeding tube.

Surgery

The goal of surgery is to repair the septal opening before the lungs are damaged. Surgery will also help infants who have trouble feeding gain a normal amount of weight. Your child's heart doctor will decide when your child should have surgery. This may be based on echocardiogram and cardiac catheterization results.

In surgery, your child’s doctor will close the VSD with stitches or a special patch. Ask your child’s heart doctor for more information.

Cardiac catheterization

VSD may be repaired by a cardiac catheterization. In this test, an instrument called a septal occluder is used with a catheter. The healthcare provider guides the catheter through the blood vessels to the heart. Once the catheter is in the heart, the doctor closes defect with the septal occluder.

Complications of an untreated VSD include:

  • Lung problems
  • Heart failure
  • Irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias)
  • Heart valve problems
  • Poor growth and development