What is a ventricular septal defect?
A ventricular septal defect (VSD) is an opening in the tissue (the septum) between the heart’s lower chambers (the ventricles). A VSD is one of the defects referred to as “a hole in the heart.”
When the VSD is large, the heart may have to pump harder to deliver enough oxygen to the body. Patients with a small VSD usually do not have any symptoms.
Sometimes children with a VSD also have other heart abnormalities.
There are four basic types of VSD:
- Perimembranous VSD. An opening in a particular area of the upper section of the ventricular septum (an area called the membranous septum), near the valves. This type of VSD is the most commonly operated upon since most perimembranous VSDs do not spontaneously close.
- Muscular VSD. An opening in the muscular portion of the lower section of the ventricular septum. This is the most common type of VSD. A large number of these muscular VSDs close spontaneously and do not require surgery.
- Atrioventricular canal type VSD. A VSD associated with atrioventricular canal defect. The VSD is located underneath the tricuspid and mitral valves.
- Conal septal VSD. The rarest of VSDs which occur in the ventricular septum just below the pulmonary valve.
Ventricular septal defects are the most commonly occurring type of congenital heart defect, accounting for 25 percent of congenital heart disease cases.
What are the symptoms of a ventricular septal defect?
If the hole is large, a child might exhibit symptoms including:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Difficulty feeding
- Heart murmur – the heart sounds abnormal when a doctor listens with a stethoscope