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Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) Surgery

Ventricular septal defect (VSD) surgery may be considered for an adult who has symptoms related to a congenital hole that formed in the wall between the heart’s lower ventricles.

A congenital heart condition, a ventricular septal defect (VSD) is a hole in the wall (septum) that separates the heart’s two lower chambers (ventricles). In many cases, the condition produces a distinctive murmur whenever blood flows backward into the right ventricle. Usually, the murmur is detected by a physician at birth or shortly thereafter.

Most VSDs close on their own and do not require treatment other than monitoring. However, if a VSD has not closed by age 10, spontaneous closure is unlikely to occur. An unrepaired VSD may cause fatigue, shortness of breath or heart rhythm problems in an older child or adult. And even if it does not cause symptoms, a VSD increases the risk of heart valve problems and endocarditis, a potentially life-threatening heart infection.

When Is VSD Surgery Considered?

VSD surgery may be considered for an adult who is experiencing heart or lung symptoms related to the defect. Usually performed by a surgeon who specializes in treating adult congenital heart defects, the procedure involves patching the hole between the ventricles. To do so, the surgeon may close the hole with stitches (a primary repair) or patch the hole with a special mesh fabric (a secondary repair). In the latter case, heart tissue will eventually grow around and over the patch, effectively incorporating it into the heart muscle.

Traditional VSD surgery is performed as an open-heart procedure, but there is a non-surgical alternative for some patients. Specifically, the surgeons at Tampa General Hospital utilize an innovative, catheter-based technique to repair some VSDs. This procedure involves inserting a long, thin tube (catheter) into a blood vessel in the groin, then guiding the tube to the area of the heart defect. Working through the catheter, the surgeon closes the hole with a special device, then withdraws the catheter.

What to Expect After VSD Surgery

In a patient who has a VSD and no other heart or lung problems, repair of the defect can potentially restore the heart’s normal function, allowing the patient to engage in physical activity without restrictions. On the other hand, a patient who has complications related to a VSD, such as a heart valve problem or abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias), may have some physical activity restrictions after VSD surgery.

At TGH, our outstanding surgeons, echocardiographers, interventional cardiologists, anesthesiologists and other cardiovascular medical professionals work closely together to perform VSD surgery and other procedures to address structural heart disease. We create a comprehensive treatment and after-care plan for each patient.