Atrioventricular Canal Defect in Children | Treatments

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How is atrioventricular canal defect treated?

Specific treatments for atrioventricular (AV) canal defect depend on the extent of the disease — which can range from a single defect to a full combination of defects (complete). AV canal is almost always treated by surgical repair of the defects. Medications may be helpful and improve symptoms until the operation is performed.

Most children undergo surgery by the age of three to six months. Children with Down syndrome may develop symptoms earlier than other children and may need to have surgery at an earlier age.

Treatments may include:

  • Medical management of infants who may become tired when feeding, and may not be able to eat enough to gain weight. Nutritional support from more concentrated breast milk or formula gives the baby more calories or other forms of nutritional-assistance diuretics, such as Lasix, help the kidneys remove excess fluid from the lungs and body.
  • ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors, such as Captopril or Enalapril, help the heart pump blood forward into the body digoxin helps strengthen the heart muscle, enabling it to pump more efficiently.
  • A Surgical procedure to create two separate functioning valves, one for each side of the heart. The methods used to repair AV canal have improved greatly in the past two decades, and the operation has a high likelihood of success.

Care after AV canal surgery

After your baby's operation and hospital stay (usually five to seven days), he'll need to be followed by a pediatric cardiologist, who will offer recommendations for post-operative follow-up care, including:

  • wound care while your baby is healing
  • a nutritional program to encourage weight gain
  • an oral hygiene program to prevent infection
  • an appropriate exercise regimen to build body mass and achieve fitness
  • As your baby recovers and grows, be sure to follow a regular program of well-baby/well-child checkups.
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