Septal Defects

Also known as: ventricular septal defect, VSD, atrial septal defect, ASD.

What are septal defects?

A septal defect is a hole in the tissue (septum) that separates two adjacent chambers of the heart. It is commonly present between the upper chambers of the heart (the left atrium and right atrium) when it's called an atrial septal defect or it can occur between the lower chambers of the heart (the ventricles) when it is called a ventricular septal defect.
 

What causes septal defects? 

The exact cause of septal defects is not known. It may occur with other congenital heart problems. Genetic (hereditary) and/or environmental factors may play a role.
 

What are the symptoms of septal defects? 

Depending on which type of septal defect is present, and its size, there may be no symptoms or children may present with fatigue, tiredness with playing, sweating, rapid or shortness of breath, recurrent respiratory tract infections, poor growth, and heart palpitations.
 

What are septal defects care options? 

Depending of which defect is present, its size, location, and whether symptoms and/or complications are present or not, ongoing observation, medications, nutritional support, devices to plug the hole, or surgery may be required. 

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 6/21/2019 2:21:01 AM


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The Heart Program at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital provides electrocardiogram (EKG) screenings to children and young adults in the community at no cost. The use of an EKG is critical to help diagnose asymptomatic heart defects that may not otherwise be detected in a routine physical exam. Learn more.