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

Pediatric atrioventricular canal care in Denver, Colorado

Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children’s pediatric cardiologists and heart specialists will provide the best heart diagnosis and treatment for your child who has atrioventricular canal defect (or atrioventricular septal defect – AVSD). Our heart care team is dedicated to providing the best congenital heart abnormality treatment.

What is atrioventricular canal defect?

Atrioventricular canal defect (AV canal) is a heart abnormality that was present at birth. It is often referred to as endocardial cushion defect or atrioventricular septal defect (AVSD).

AVSD is a complex heart condition that includes several heart structure abnormalities inside the heart. This includes:

  • Atrial septal defect—An opening in the dividing wall between the two upper chambers of the heart, known as the right and left atria.
  • Ventricular septal defect—An opening in the dividing wall between the two lower chambers of the heart (right and left ventricles).
  • Improperly formed mitral and/or tricuspid valves—The valves that separate the upper heart chambers (atria) from the lower heart chambers (ventricles) are improperly formed. (Specifically, one of the normal cusps is divided into two cusps, creating three instead of two.)

Atrioventricular canal defects are more common in infants with Down syndrome and occur in about five percent of all congenital heart disease cases.

Atrioventricular canal symptoms

Babies with atrioventricular canal typically will not show symptoms until several weeks after birth. For children and babies affected by AV canal, symptoms include:

  • Faster than normal breathing
  • Trouble feeding or nursing babies
  • Growth at irregular rates
  • High blood pressure in the lungs

Atrioventricular canal treatment

Our specialists have extensive training in treating a wide range of maternal-fetal conditions, including atrioventricular canal. 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.

For this congenital condition to be treated properly, physicians will typically recommend open-heart surgery to repair the heart. Because this heart condition cannot close on its own, medicines are prescribed to temporarily relieve your child of his or her symptoms. However, medicine will not prevent permanent damage to the lung arteries.

Sarana’s story

At 20-days-old, Sarana was diagnosed with a congenital heart abnormality. Sarana is from Mongolia, and she was unable to receive the life-saving care she needed in her home country. Dr. Steve Leonard of Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children was able to step in and provide the treatment Saran needed thanks to the assistance of Samaritan's Purse.

Learn more about Sarana’s journey to RMHC