Ventricular Septal Defect (cont.)
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Exams and Tests
If a ventricular septal defect is noted before your baby leaves the hospital, several tests may be ordered before discharge.
A ventricular septal defect is detected on physical examination by a systolic murmur audible with a stethoscope along the lower left sternal or breast bone border. It is related to the oxygenated blood “swishing” through the hole or VSD into the right ventricle.
The presence of a hole in the heart can be confirmed by echocardiogram. This painless test uses ultrasound waves to construct a moving picture of the heart. It can quantitate the size of the left-to-right shunt by enlargement of the left ventricle, pressure in the lungs, and actually estimate the degree of shunting by an empirical formula.
Chest x-ray is useful to see if the overall heart size is enlarged, plus evidence of fluid in the lungs or pulmonary congestion. An electrocardiogram is helpful in checking to see if the left ventricle is the dominant working muscle, ie the more of right ventricular enlargement or hypertrophy seen, the more the physician must worry about pulmonary hypertension, and therefore operate sooner.
Cardiac catheterization may be performed in certain circumstances.
Mark Merlin, DO, FACEP
Kathryn L Hale, MS, PA-C
Alan D Forker, MD
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
Jonathan Adler, MD
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