Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
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Home / A–Z Services / Pediatric Heart Institute / Heart Conditions / Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD)
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Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD)


What is Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD)?

A VSD is a hole in the wall (septum) between the lower pumping chambers (ventricles) of the heart. VSD is the most common congenital (present at birth) heart defect. The left side of the heart has higher pressure than the right side. The left side pumps blood out to the head and the feet. The right side pumps only to the lungs. In a heart with VSD, there is abnormal blood flow across a hole from the left ventricle to the right ventricle because of the pressure difference. 

How do we diagnose VSD?

VSDs are generally found in infancy. A murmur (noise) is heard when blood crosses from the left pumping chamber to the right pumping chamber. This murmur may not be heard until days or weeks after birth. VSD can strain the lungs and pumping chamber of the heart resulting in congestive heart failure. This does not mean the heart is failing, but that is is working harder than a normal, healthy heart.

Some symptoms of congestive heart failure include fast breathing, poor feeding, sweating with feeding, and poor weight gain. Some children require medicines to help manage these symptoms until the VSD either closes on its own or is surgically repaired. These medicines help the heart pump stronger and get rid of extra fluid.

How do we treat VSD?

Some VSDs will close on their own. Others, because of their size or location, need surgical repair. This involves placing a patch between the pumping chambers to close the hole. After the patch is placed, normal heart tissue grows over the patch and it becomes part of the heart. After the defect is closed, either spontaneously or surgically, blood circulation in the heart returns to normal.

Last Edited: June 30, 2016
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