Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD)

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What is a ventricular septal defect?

A ventricular septal defect (VSD) is a hole in the wall that separates the lower right and left heart chambers (ventricles). It is the most common type of congenital (present from birth) heart condition.

In patients with VSD, oxygen-rich blood passes from the left ventricle and mixes with oxygen-poor blood in the right ventricle. This sends extra blood to the lungs and make them work harder. The larger the hole, the more symptoms it can cause. Some infants may develop difficulty with growth and breathing. Symptomatic VSDs may be able to be managed with medication. If that is not sufficient, surgical repair is recommended. If left untreated, a large VSD can cause pulmonary hypertension, which can lead to lung disease. Rarely, a VSD can lead to an infection in the heart, called bacterial endocarditis.

Care for ventricular septal defects

Most VSDs are small enough that observation or medical therapy, including higher calorie formula or medications to relieve congested breathing, are all that is needed. Many VSDs become smaller on their own and even close. If an infant has significant difficulties with growth or breathing, despite medical therapy, than surgical closure can be performed with excellent results. Our cardiologists can assess patients with VSDs and guide their care through infancy and beyond. We work hand in hand with our cardiac surgeons to offer the best outcomes for our patients.

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Boston Children's Hospital
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