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Ventricular Septal Defect (cont.)

Ventricular Septal Defect Treatment

In some children with ventricular septal defect, the defect will close on its own as the child grows.

Medical Treatment

Patient Comments

If a larger ventricular septal defect is causing symptoms, your child's health care provider may prescribe medication.

  • Which medication is prescribed depends on the severity of symptoms.
  • The goal of therapy is to reduce the symptoms of congestive heart failure, such as poor growth and development, weight loss and/or poor weight gain, excessive sweating, and fast breathing. An older patient typically develops fluid in the lungs, liver, and legs.
  • If serious infections and/or dental work is needed, antibiotics are needed to prevent the infection from spreading to the VSD, ie infectious endocarditis, which is potentially fatal.

Medications for Ventricular Septal Defect

  • Vasodilators: Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors or angiotensin-receptor blockers are used to decrease the work load on the left ventricle.
  • Digoxin (Lanoxin) increases the strength of the heart muscle to deal with the greater blood volume.
  • Diuretics such as Lasix (furosemide) or spironolactone help remove excess fluid from the body so the heart doesn't have to work as hard and the patient feels much better.

Ventricular Septal Defect Surgery

Larger ventricular septal defects do not close as the child grows. If it does not close, closing the heart surgically is necessary.

  • Surgical closure is typically done before the child begins preschool.
  • Surgery is indicated if medications do not work in the first few months or years of life, especially if the child is not growing adequately even with medications.
  • Surgery is more urgent if evidence of pulmonary hypertension has developed.
  • The most used operation involves placing a patch over the hole. This prevents shunting (the movement of oxygenated blood from the left to the right ventricle).

Surgery is not usually performed in newborns because small defects will close spontaneously in a significant percentage. The surgery also is more risky in the first few months of life; the risk of death from the operation is higher in the first 6 months of life than later.

Researchers are testing devices that cover the defect, performed in the cardiac catheterization laboratory, not by open heart surgery.

Ventricular Septal Defect Follow-up

  • Regular office visits and echocardiograms are required to continually reassess the ventricular septal defect.
  • The child's weight and length/height will be checked often. Feeding and activity levels should be assessed routinely.
  • Routine antibiotic use is warranted for dental surgery and any invasive procedure.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/31/2015
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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Ventricular Septal Defect, General Concepts »

A ventricular septal defect (VSD) is a hole or a defect in the septum that divides the 2 lower chambers of the heart and that results in a communication between the ventricular cavities.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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