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What is Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD)?

Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) is one of the most common type of congenital heart defect. In VSD, there is a hole between the two lower chambers of the heart, the right and left ventricles. This hole allows oxygen-rich blood to mix with oxygen-poor blood, creating stress on the lungs and problems circulating enough oxygen to the body.

After birth, a baby with VSD can develop trouble feeding, excessive sleepiness, breathing problems, sweating, and a failure to thrive. Small VSDs may close on their own as the child grows, and medication and supplemental feeding may be all that is necessary, but larger VSDs often require surgery. However, with early treatment, the long-term prognosis is good.

How is VSD diagnosed during pregnancy?

If your doctor suspects VSD after reviewing your routine ultrasound, he or she may request a fetal echocardiogram, or an ultrasound of the fetus’s heart. This echocardiogram shows the structure of the heart and how it is functioning, and can detect some of the symptoms of VSD (such as heart murmurs), which can help us confirm the diagnosis and decide on the best option for treatment.

How is VSD monitored and treated during pregnancy?

Most babies with VSD can be delivered normally at full-term. With some more severe forms, your baby may need to be delivered early or via C-section. At the Fetal Care Institute, we monitor your baby closely during delivery to minimize complications and make state-of-the-art care available immediately.

In most cases, after delivery, your baby will be given medication and treated in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

How does VSD affect delivery?

Most babies with VSD can be delivered vaginally at full-term. If there are complications, though, your baby may need to be delivered early or by C-section. At the Fetal Care Institute, our team of fetal cardiologists and maternal-fetal medicine specialists monitor your baby closely during delivery to minimize complications, and make state-of-the-art care available immediately. In most cases, after delivery, your baby will be given medication and treated in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

What are the treatments and surgeries for VSD, and what are the long-term effects?

The severity of the defect will help the Fetal Care Institute team decide what treatments may be best for your child.

When is this treatment used?

Medication

For smaller VSDs, or to supplement other treatments for large VSDs Common medications include digoxin, which helps strengthen the heart muscle, and diuretics, which help the kidneys remove extra fluid.

Antibiotics

For large and small VSDs, if needed These help prevent bacterial infection within the heart.

Nutritional supplements

For smaller VSDs, or to supplement other treatments for large VSDs These help your child gain weight, and may include high-calorie formula, supplements to breast milk, or tube feeding.

Cardiac catheterization (minimally invasive surgery)

For larger VSDs The surgeon uses a small tube, called a catheter, to insert an umbrella-shaped patch to close the hole. The incision for this surgery is very small.

Open heart surgery

For larger VSDs, if cardiac catheterization is not an option . The surgeon stitches or patches the hole. Some VSDs may have a structure that would make cardiac catheterization unsuccessful.

If your baby needs surgery, the surgeons often perform the surgery within the first week or two of his or her life. After the surgery, children need regular follow-up visits with a cardiologist to monitor their progress, but usually lead healthy, normal lives.