Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) Closure

An atrial septal defect (ASD) is a congenital condition in which there is a hole between the heart’s two upper chambers. During fetal development, the hole is there to ensure blood does not enter the lungs before birth. This hole typically closes on its own after birth, but it can remain open in some babies, leading to a diagnosis of ASD. The reason why some babies develop ASD is unknown, but researchers believe genetic factors may be at play.

An ASD closure is a medical procedure that addresses this condition by sealing the hole. At Tampa General Hospital, our cardiac surgeons will complete this procedure with either cardiac catheterization or open-heart surgery.

How the ASD Closure Is Performed

TGH offers two types of ASD closures for patients, depending on the size of the hole and the patient’s overall condition:

  • Cardiac catheterization – A closure device (a mesh-like patch or soft disc) is folded and attached to a catheter. The catheter is then inserted into a blood vessel in the groin and slowly guided to the heart. Once in place, the catheter releases the closure device and it opens up to seal the hole in the heart.
  • Open-heart surgery – For larger holes, open-heart surgery may be the best option. It takes place under general anesthesia and with the support of a heart-lung machine. Some ASDs can be closed up with sutures while others may need a tissue patch (often taken from the patient’s own pericardium, the sac that surrounds the heart). Many times, these surgical procedures can be completed with minimally invasive measures.

What to Expect From an ASD Closure

The benefits of an ASD closure far outweigh the risks, as failing to seal this hole in the heart can lead to significant medical complications, such as heart failure, abnormal heart rhythms, stroke and pulmonary hypertension.

Though rare, some of the risks associated with an ASD closure include:

  • Vascular damage
  • Infection of the closure device
  • Contrast allergies
  • Prolonged bleeding leading to a transfusion
  • Cardiac rhythm problems

Effectiveness of the ASD Closure

TGH delivers world-class care to patients and our excellent outcomes for even complex procedures is one of the reasons we have been named one of America’s Best Hospitals for Cardiology & Heart Surgery by U.S. News & World Report.

Most of our patients who have had an ASD closure go on to live happy, healthy and energetic lives with little need for further surgical intervention. You will have regular visits with your cardiologist, at three months, six months and 12 months following the procedure. After that, a yearly checkup is all that’s needed. Your treatment plan will also likely include taking blood thinners for a year after the procedure.