Ventricular Septal Defect
Ventricular Septal Defect
A ventricular septal defect is a hole in the wall of the heart (septum) that separates the left lower chamber (left ventricle) from the right lower chamber (right ventricle). The hole allows blood to flow from the left ventricle to the right ventricle instead of entering the aorta for distribution throughout the body. Ventricular septal defect is one of a group of heart problems found in newborn babies that are collectively called congenital heart disease.
The heart has four chambers. The two lower chambers are called ventricles and are responsible for pumping blood. The right ventricle pumps blood to the lungs and the left ventricle pumps blood throughout the body. If there is a hole in the septum that separates the two ventricles, blood from the left ventricle can enter the right ventricle. This blood recycles through the lungs before returning to the left ventricle. This results in less oxygenated blood reaching the body. If the hole is sufficiently large, the lack of oxygen being delivered to the body can cause severe problems, including heart failure and breathlessness. Approximately 0.7% of all babies have a congenital heart defect. Of these, 20% have a ventricular septal defect.
Causes and symptoms
Congenital heart defects are errors in the development of the heart structure. They occur early in the life of the embryo. There is no known cause of congenital heart defects. They can be associated with several diseases, such as German measles (rubella ) and Down syndrome. Genetics does not seem to play a role in ventricular septal defect. People with a heart defect do not have an increased chance of passing it on to their children.
Symptoms result from a reduced amount of oxygen going to the body. Symptoms are proportional to the size of the defect. They may appear at any time in the life of the child. In cases where the hole in the septum is very small, few or no symptoms may appear and the child may develop normally. In cases where the ventricular septal defect is large, the newborn will shows signs of heavy breathing, sweating, and feeding difficulties. Children with this defect tire easily. Ventricular septal defect can also result in stunted growth resulting from insufficient oxygen being delivered to the growing body. Children with ventricular septal defect tend to suffer more frequent colds and pneumonia, and have a higher rate of inflammation and infection of the heart (endocarditis ).
Echocardiogram— An image of the heart produced by an instrument that uses sound waves to create image the heart.
Electrocardiogram— A graph of the heart's beating action.
Endocarditis— An inflammation of the interior lining of the heart that is frequently caused by infectious agents.
The condition is first suspected based on observation of the child. The physician will listen to the heart with a stethoscope (auscultation) to detect a heart murmur. X rays, electrocardiogram (ECG), and echocardiography can all be used to evaluate ventricular septal defect.
Most small holes close without treatment. Often, as the child grows, the hole closes or becomes smaller. If the hole is large or fails to close, the child is usually treated with drugs. Holes that persist and are causing problems in development are corrected by open heart surgery. Usually, surgery is performed after one year of age, but before the child enters school. This allows time for a trial of drug therapy, which could potentially eliminate the need for surgery. The operation is generally safe.
Children with small septal defects tend to develop normally and without any effect on their ability to participate in physical activities. Surgery allows children with larger defects to live nearly normal lives.
Alexander, R. W., R. C. Schlant, and V. Fuster, editors. The Heart. 9th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1998.
"Ventricular Septal Defect." Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 3rd ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 15, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/ventricular-septal-defect
"Ventricular Septal Defect." Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 3rd ed.. . Retrieved December 15, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/ventricular-septal-defect
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.