Pronounced: A-tree-o-ven-TREAH-q-lar sep-TAL DEE-fect
The heart is divided into four chambers that help circulate blood through the body. The top two chambers are called atria. The bottom two chambers are called ventricles. Two valves are between the upper and lower chambers. Tissue called the septum divides the chambers. The tissue grows as the fetus develops.
An atrioventricular septal defect is present at birth. It occurs when any of the tissues that divide the septum do not grow completely. This leaves one or more "holes." It may also leave one leaky valve instead of two separate valves.
The heart may have to work harder to circulate blood correctly. Open-heart surgery is often needed to correct the defect in babies.
The septal tissue fails to grow correctly as the fetus develops in the womb. This results in atrioventricular septal defect.
Risk factors that increase the chance that a baby will be born with a ventricular septal defect include:
Your doctor will ask about your baby's symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
A doctor may recommend any of the following treatments for your baby:
It may not be possible to prevent the condition because the exact cause is unknown. A septal defect can be identified, watched, and treated early in pregnancy and childhood:
American Association of Family Physicians
American Heart Association
Canadian Adult Congenital Heart Network
Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation
Atrial septal defect. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated June 6, 2012. Accessed November 10, 2012.
Atrioventricular septal defect, complete. Cove Point Foundation website. Available at: http://www.pted.org/?id=atrioventricularcomplete1. Updated May 16, 2011. Accessed November 10, 2012.
Saenz R, Beebe D, Triplett L. Caring for infants with congenital heart disease and their families. Am Fam Physician . 1999;59. Available at: http://www.aafp.org/afp/990401ap/1857.html. Accessed . Accessed November 10, 2012.
Ventricular septal defect. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated June 14, 2012. Accessed November 10, 2012.
Last reviewed November 2012 by Michael J. Fucci, DO
Last Updated: 11/10/2012