Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD): The Fatal Hole in Heart

Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) is a congenital heart defect, usually present from birth. In VSD there is a hole in septum (the wall between right and left side of heart) between the right and left ventricle. Ventricles are lower part of heart which pumps the blood out of it. Right ventricle pumps the blood to lungs while left ventricle pumps the blood to remaining body. The hole between these ventricles mixes the oxygen-rich blood with oxygen-less blood and exerts extra workload on lungs, heart and pulmonary artery.

What causes Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) ?
VSD is usually detected in infants soon after birth. In most of the cases it fills on its own within a few weeks, but if it doesn't then it is considered as a health risk. The cause of VSD still not known. It is a rare disease and some experts believe that genetic factors might have some role in it. Similar to VSD there is another medical condition called Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO), also known as Atrial septal defect (ASD). PFO is also a hole in heart which is present in almost 20% population but it causes no visible symptoms and often remains untreated. However the reason behind PFO is known which is described in our last article.

Symptoms of Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD)
As we told that VCD is usually detected in newly born kids, so the symptoms need to be checked either by parents or doctor as the the kid can't tell these things on its own. Some common symptoms are

  • Poor feeding
  • Fast breathing
  • Getting tired more often
  • Poor Weight Gain
  • Bluish tint to the skin, lips and fingernails

Health Complications caused due to VSD
If the hole due to VSD is small then it does not cause any health complications and doctors suggest to wait for sometime to let it close itself, but they recommend regular checkup of kid to monitor the VSD hole if it is shrinking or not.
Health complications arise if the VSD is large or if there are multiple small VSD. VSD increases the pressure of blood in Right Auricle which supplies blood to lungs through Pulmonary Artery. Usually oxygen less blood travels to lungs, but the VSD hole mixes some oxygen-rich blood into it as well. All factors not only make our lungs and heart work more intensely to provide proper blood supply to body but also increases blood pressure in pulmonary artery which is known as Pulmonary Hypertension. Usually Pulmonary Hypertension us not considered as curable disease but if it is due to VSD then treatment of VSD can treat it as well.
If VSD remains untreated that it can be fatal.

Treatment of Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD)
Previously Open Heart Surgery was the only option to treat VSD. But a newly born kid with a major VSD can't go for that, so surgeons go for a small surgery procedure known as pulmonary artery banding, which narrows the pulmonary artery and reduces the blood flow to lungs. As the child gets older an open-heart-surgery is performed to remove the band and fix the VSD.
If the VSD is small the it can be sewed, but if it is large then a patch of fabric or lining around the heart is used and sewed on the hole. Later hearts's own tissues grow on that part and make it permanent.
Now a days a modern technology called catheterization laboratory is performed to stay away from open heart surgery. In this technique a catheter is inserted into a blood vessel in thigh that leads to heart with the help of an x-ray machine. Then the VSD is detected and a mesh device is sent to the site through catheter which closes the hole from both sides. This complete procedure just needs a maximum one night stay for the patient.

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