Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) Repair

An atrial septal defect (ASD) is a hole in the wall between the atria, the two upper chambers of the heart. An ASD may close on its own without any treatment. Small ASDs close on their own as often as 80% of the time. Medication won’t shrink an ASD or repair it.

If the ASD is still present as your child gets older, it may need to be repaired. One way to repair an ASD is through open heart surgery.  Another way, if the ASD is small enough, is to have an interventional cardiologist perform the repair using a catheter to implant a device that closes the hole. This kind of procedure avoids open heart surgery.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved devices for ASD repairs.

The interventional cardiologist precisely threads a catheter through a large blood vessel to the heart and through the ASD. The device is then opened and positioned in the atrial septal defect, blocking the hole.

Potential benefits of this procedure include:

  • Avoid open heart surgery
  • Less scarring
  • Less trauma
  • Quicker recovery

Atrial Septal Defect Repair With Open Heart Surgery

With advances in interventional cardiology, open heart surgery to repair ASDs has become less common in recent years.

However, if the position of the ASD makes an interventional cardiology procedure less effective, if your child has other heart defects, or if the ASD is too large, open heart surgery may be the only repair option.

If open heart surgery is needed, the surgeon may be able to close the hole with stitches. For larger ASDs, repair usually requires a patch. This patch can be taken from the pericardium (the sac that surrounds the heart) or made of synthetic material.

Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, is the leading provider of pediatric heart care in Louisville and Southern Indiana. We have the pediatric cardiologists, interventional pediatric cardiologists, and pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons available to decide which treatment option will be best to address your child’s ASD.

Norton Children’s has a network of outreach diagnostic and treatment services conveniently located throughout Kentucky and Southern Indiana.

Atrial Septal Defect Closure Complications and After Care

In more than 99% of cases, patients have no complications after an ASD repair. Success rates also are high for catheter device placements.

Most children have no difficulty with physical activity or restrictions after ASD repair.

Your child will need to continue with regular follow-up appointments with a pediatric cardiologist to make sure issues do not occur as your child ages or in adulthood.

Why Choose Norton Children’s Heart Institute

The Adult Congenital Heart Association has recognized Norton Children's Heart Institute for its expertise treating adult congenital heart disease.

  • Norton Children’s Hospital has been a pioneer in pediatric cardiothoracic surgery, performing Kentucky’s first pediatric heart transplant in 1986 and becoming the second site in the United States to perform an infant heart transplant.
  • The American Board of Thoracic Surgery has certified our cardiothoracic surgeons in congenital heart surgery.
  • The Adult Congenital Heart Association has accredited Norton Children’s Heart Institute’s Adult Congenital Heart Program as the only comprehensive care center in Kentucky and Indiana treating adults born with a heart defect.
  • More than 5,000 children a year visit Norton Children’s Heart Institute for advanced heart care.
  • Norton Children’s Heart Institute has offices across Kentucky and Southern Indiana to bring quality pediatric heart care closer to home.
  • The Jennifer Lawrence Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) at Norton Children’s Hospital is the largest dedicated CICU in Kentucky, equipped with 17 private rooms and the newest technology available for heart care.
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