Ventricular Septal Defect


A ventricular septal defect (VSD) is an abnormal opening in the wall (septum) that divides the two lower chambers of the heart (ventricles) and allows blood from either side of the heart to cross into the opposite ventricle.

Usually, because the left side of the heart is at a higher pressure than the right side, the blood from the left ventricle flows to the right ventricle and, subsequently, back to the lungs. This abnormal shunting of oxygen-rich blood back to the oxygen-poor right side of the heart is referred to as a left-to-right shunt.

Because the right side of the heart and the blood vessels in the lungs are not built to withstand increased volumes and pressures, left-to-right shunting eventually may result in heart failure and pulmonary hypertension (elevated blood pressure in the pulmonary blood vessels).

Patients can be seen by Texas Children's experts in Heart Center.

Symptoms & Types

Signs and symptoms depend on the VSD’s size and how much blood abnormally flows across the defect. Symptoms may include:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Enlarged heart
  • Irregular heart rhythm (dysrhythmias), especially atrial dysrhythmias
  • Heart failure

Diagnosis & Tests

Tests to diagnose ventricular septal defect may include:

  • Chest x-ray
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG)
  • Echocardiogram
  • MRI of the heart

Treatment & Care

The surgical option for a VSD is ventricular septal defect closure. Ventricular septal defect closure is considered open-heart surgery, meaning the heart will have to be opened and the patient’s blood flow will have to be diverted to a heart-lung bypass machine during the repair.

If the patient has no other cardiac defects, this operation usually is considered a cure and no further surgeries should be needed.

Volumes & Outcomes