An atrial septal defect (ASD) is an opening or hole in the wall that separates the two upper chambers of the heart. This wall is called the atrial septum. The hole causes oxygen-rich blood to leak from the left side of the heart to the right side. This causes extra work for the right side of the heart, since more blood than necessary is flowing through the right ventricle to the lungs.
If the ASD is small enough, it can be closed with a special device. The procedure is done in the heart catheterization lab.
What happens during the closure procedure?
The procedure is performed while your child is under a general anaesthetic. This means that your child will be asleep during the procedure.
Not every ASD can be closed with heart catheterization. Therefore, we first need to measure the ASD to make sure it can be closed with a device in the catheterization lab.
When your child is asleep, we will do a test called a transesophageal echocardiogram. "Echocardiogram" ,"Transesophageal" means we do the ultrasound with a small probe that is placed in your child's esophagus, the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. This test will measure the size of the hole and help place the closure device.
- If the test shows that the hole is too big to close with the device, we will wake up your child and send him or her to the recovery room. Your child's cardiologist will discuss the next steps with you and your child.
- If the hole is small enough and in the right position, we will go on with the catheterization.
During the catheterization, the doctor puts a catheter with a small deflated balloon on the tip through the blood vessel to the hole. The balloon is inflated to measure the size of the hole again. If the hole can be closed with the device, the doctor puts the closure device inside the catheter and places the device into the hole.
Once the device is in place, the doctor takes out the catheter and covers the cut on your child's leg with a bandage.