Congenital heart defects are problems that are present since birth. Ventricular Septal Defect is one of the most common congenital defects that affect newborns. A normal heart has four chambers: 2 atria and 2 ventricles. These chambers are divided by a wall of muscle called a septum. In ventricular septum defect, there is a hole in the septum partitioning the ventricles. Since the septum prevents mixing of blood between the two sides of the heart.
Thereby allowing oxygen-rich blood can mix with oxygen-poor blood. This may affect the performance of the heart and other organs, since oxygen-rich blood is pumped to the lungs instead of out to the body. This extra blood being pumped into the lung arteries makes the heart and lungs work harder and the lungs can become congested.
The impact of VSD on your child depends on the size of the hole. If the opening is small, It doesn’t much affect the child since the heart and lungs don’t have to work harder and there are no visible symptoms. A doctor however may note a loud murmur through a stethoscope. Usually surgery or other treatment options may not be needed.
However symptoms start showing when the opening is large; the breathing becomes faster and harder than normal kids. Their feeding ability is also affected and their growth may be restricted. These symptoms are not captured till several weeks have passed after birth. Persistent high pressure in blood vessels in the lungs builds up and may cause permanent damage to the lung blood vessels. Surgery may be used in these cases to close it and prevent serious problems. Medicines might be prescribed to help in addressing these symptoms but may not be permanent solution for VSD.
This surgery involves sewing patch of fabric and then being covered normal lining around the outside of the heart over the VSD to close it. Sometimes, these defects don’t need extraneous material as well and can be sewn closed without a patch.
You can also read about: Atrial Septal Defect / Hole in Heart – Things You Should Know.
In rare conditions, when a child has multiple VSDs or when VSD is located in an unusual location, the cardiologist may prefer to have a temporary operation called pulmonary artery banding to relieve of temporary symptoms. This procedure helps in narrowing the pulmonary artery to reduce the blood flow to the lungs. Open heart surgery may be done when the child is old enough to handle the surgery.
Post-surgery your child should be able to carry out all his physical activities well and there will be minimal or no restrictions. Your doctor will advise you for periodic checkup to check for leaks and overall health. The good part is the open heart surgery has a good long-term outlook and can help you child lead a normal life.