Atrial Septal Defect: Treatments

How do we treat atrial septal defect (ASD)?

If your child has an ASD, your pediatric cardiologist will want to carefully monitor him or her. You may have frequent appointments and repeated tests to help track the condition. Often, the hole will close on its own without a medical intervention. However, if the hole has not closed up by the time a child starts school, a cardiologist will schedule either a cardiac catheterization or open-heart surgery to close the hole.

If your child's ASD does not improve on its own, the condition can usually be repaired by cardiac catheterization. This is a minimally invasive surgery where a small incision is made in a child's groin and a patch is gently snaked up the leg veins into the heart, where it can then be guided across the hole, then opened up like a flower to seal it. Children stay in the hospital overnight and are asked to take it easy for the next week. Watch a video about what to expect for your child's heart catheterization.

Less commonly, when the hole is too large for cardiac catheterization surgery or in the wrong location, open-heart surgery may be required to repair it. A cardiac surgeon will stitch the septal hole together or patch the hole with surgical material. In this case, your child will typically stay in the hospital for a few days while the incision heals.

Learn why Children's Hospital Colorado is the best place for your child's heart surgery.