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.
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.