Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children - Center for Maternl\Fetal Health

Pediatric atrial septal defect care in Denver, Colorado

Our pediatric cardiologists are ready to provide the best heart care for your child or baby when atrial septal defect (ASD) is diagnosed. Our specialists use the latest techniques and technology to ensure that your child receives the best heart treatment for their congenital heart condition.

What is atrial septal defect?

An atrial septal defect is a hole in the dividing wall between the top two upper chambers of the heart (the right and left atria.) Normally, oxygen-poor (blue) blood is pumped into the lungs where it can receive oxygen. Oxygen-rich (red) blood is pumped out of the body through the aorta. With ASD, this abnormality allows red and blue blood to mix, resulting in your child’s body not receiving the proper amount of oxygen.

ASD occurs in six to eight percent of children born with congenital heart disease . Girls are known to have ASD twice as often as boys do. Typically, your child will be able to participate in normal activities, unless your child has received treatment or if your pediatrician provides you with any other medical advice.

Atrial septal defect symptoms

Children with ASD do not often show any symptoms. This is because your child’s heart and lungs function normally. If the opening dividing wall is large enough, your child’s pediatrician may be able to find a heart murmur or other abnormal heart sounds. Additionally, your child could experience shortness of breath or experience recurrent pneumonia and/or bronchitis.

The main risk that children with ASD face are that their lung blood vessels can be permanently damaged because blood is being pumped there more than normal. Your child may also develop Eisenmenger syndrome.

Atrial septal defect treatment

An echocardiogram (heart ultrasound) will be the first step your heart specialist will take. Exercise stress tests and additional monitoring may take place before your child will receive any heart treatments. We want to ensure that your child receives personalized treatment for his or her ASD.

For children with a large opening in their heart wall, our specialists will typically recommend open-heart surgery. The opening is closed with normal lining outside of the heart—called pericardium—or with a synthetic material. In some instances, the opening is stitched or sewn shut without a patch of any kind.

Our team of specialists have extensive training in treating a wide range of maternal-fetal conditions , including atrial septal defect. The expertise of our physicians, support from our entire multidisciplinary team and the vast resources at our facility allow us to provide the very best care for your child.

Life after atrial septal defect surgery

Some medicines need to be taken for a few months after surgical treatment. This medicine is taken to prevent any blood clots and is not typically taken after six months.