Atrioventricular Septal Defect (AVSD) Repair

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An atrioventricular septal defect (AVSD) repair is a procedure to close holes in the heart that cause too much blood flow and pressure. The surgery fixes the heart valves as well, to prevent the added pressure from causing lung damage.

A pediatric cardiologist will recommend surgery based on results from an echocardiogram and/or cardiac catheterization.

AVSD surgery is a complex operation that requires experience, skill and training.

Methods for this surgery have improved in the past decade. Doctors often recommend AVSD surgery during a child’s first year. Most children will have the surgery by 6 months old. Children who have Down syndrome may need surgery earlier, because they are at risk for developing lung problems sooner.

Your child’s AVSD treatment may vary, depending on his or her condition. Your child may need medicines to help the heart and lungs until your child is ready for surgery.

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.

Norton Children’s Heart Institute has a network of remote diagnostic and treatment services in Kentucky and Southern Indiana.

The surgery has a high likelihood of success and many children go on to live healthy lives. Some children may need surgery again in the future, while others may need to take medications.

What Happens During an AVSD Repair?

Your child will be sedated (asleep). A pediatric anesthesiologist will give the sedation medication and closely watch your child during the procedure.

Depending on what type of AVSD your child has, the surgery team will:

  • Close the ventricular septal defect (VSD) with a patch made from a polyester-like material
  • Close the atrial septal defect with a patch made from the pericardium — the membrane that covers the outside surface of the heart
  • Close the cleft (the cut in the valve leaflets) to create a two-leaflet (two-cusp) mitral valve
  • Replace the mitral valve if necessary

AVSD Surgery Complications and After-Care

Children who have an AVSD repair will need lifelong follow-up care with a cardiologist. They may have complications later in life, such as leaky heart valves.

They also will need to take antibiotics before dental procedures and other surgical procedures to prevent bacterial infection of the heart.

Why Choose Norton Children’s Heart Institute

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

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