Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) is also referred to as a hole in the heart. It is a type of congenital heart disease in which an abnormal opening in the dividing wall between the upper filling chambers of the heart is observed. Septum is a wall separating the right and left atrium. In children suffering from Atrial Septal Defect, there is a hole in the wall or Septum which allows the oxygenated or pure blood from the left atrium with the de-oxygenated blood in the right atrium. The extra blood that crosses the hole and flows through the heart and into the lungs creates a sound which is termed a Cardiac Murmur. This can be only taken as a clue to say that the child is suffering from Atrial Septal Defect.
Atrial Septal Defect may sometimes develop when the baby is within the womb and in some instances, it can be genetic or inherited. The pregnant women being exposed to chemicals or drugs can also be a causative for the child to have ASD. There are even cases in which the cause is totally unknown
Larger defects of ASD can cause pulmonary oedema and congestive heart failure (CHF) which can cause fatigue and difficulty in breathing. Atrial defect is well seen by a two dimensional echo. Atrial Septal Defect are asymptomatic. Due to increased pulmonary blood flow, Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) may be confronted. Anti-CHF medications like Diuretics and Digoxin may be used. Atrial Septal Defects should only be closed once it is made sure that chances of spontaneous closing is low.
Poor appetite, tired feeling, slow growth, shortness of breath, lung problems like pneumonia (inflammation of the lungs) are some of the symptoms that a child suffering from Atrial Septal Defect may show.
In case of surgery, anaesthesia is provided to the child before surgery which causes sleepiness and hence prevents any pain during operation. In surgery, the doctor stitches the hole or makes a patch with a tissue from the patient. Within a few days, the stitches heal.
Cardiac Catheterization is a process of inserting a catheter (thin, flexible tube) into the heart chamber. The hole is then covered using another device that is inserted into the heart through the catheter. Catheter is made of a metal mesh which is flexible and springy.
Kids who have undergone surgery or catheterization may have to be under doctor’s guidance for a few weeks but can soon get back to their usually routine. Kids with Atrial Septal Defect may rarely have any further complications.