baby in NICU - ventricular septal defect

Ventricular septal defect

What is ventricular septal defect?

A ventricular septal defect (VSD) is a hole in the ventricular septum, which is the wall between the main pumping chambers of the heart (ventricles).

VSD is among the most common types of congenital heart defects and is often referred to as a 'hole in the heart'.

What are the symptoms of ventricular septal defect?

Symptoms of ventricular septal defect (VSD) will depend on the size of the hole. A small VSD may cause no symptoms and in some cases will close up on its own.

Medium or large VSDs may cause the following symptoms in infants:

In older children and adults, VSDs may cause the following symptoms:

What causes ventricular septal defect?

Ventricular septal defect (VSD) occurs during the development of a baby’s heart during pregnancy.

The causes of VSD are mostly unknown, but may include genetic causes and environmental factors, such as alcohol consumption during pregnancy. VSD can occur alongside other heart defects and conditions, or genetic disorders.

In rare cases, VSD may occur after a heart attack or heart surgery.

How is ventricular septal defect diagnosed?

Physical examination soon after birth is the most common way to diagnose ventricular septal defect (VSD), as the heart murmur associated with the condition can be heard while listening to the heart with a stethoscope.

If however the VSD is small, it may not be diagnosed until later in life.

Tests to help diagnose VSD may include:

How is ventricular septal defect treated?

Many ventricular septal defects (VSDs) are small and are likely to close up on their own.

If the VSD is moderate to large, treatment may be required which can include:

How can ventricular septal defect be prevented?

As the causes of ventricular septal defect (VSD) are mostly unknown, prevention may not be possible.

It is however advisable to reduce the risk of VSD by ensuring appropriate prenatal care, including taking a multivitamin with folate, and avoiding smoking, illicit drug use and alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

Acknowledgement of Country

The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present.

Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute - The Home of Heart Research for 30 Years