Ventricular septal defect (VSD) is one of the more common congenital heart defects. A VSD is a hole or holes in the wall (the septum) between the heart’s lower chambers (the left and right ventricles). VSDs reduce the efficiency of the cardiovascular system by allowing oxygenated and deoxygenated blood to mix. Small VSDs do not significantly impair the heart’s functioning, but large defects cause the heart to overcompensate, leading to other problems such as cardiomyopathy, stroke, high blood pressure and pulmonary disease.
Many VSDs close on their own by the time a child is in preschool, but some defects—whether mild, treated or never diagnosed—eventually get worse and cause heart problems in adults. In some cases, a surgery done in the patient’s childhood needs to be repaired, or a new heart problem arises that is complicated by the lifelong defect. Occasionally, a new VSD can form in an adult heart after a heart attack. To repair VSD, Temple surgeons perform an open heart or endovascular procedure in which a mesh patch or part of the heart’s lining (pericardium) is sewn over the hole or holes. Eventually the pericardium grows over the patch, making it a permanent part of the heart. If small enough, the hole may be able to be stitched shut without a patch.