An Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) is a hole between the two upper chambers of the heart or atria. In fetal development, the wall between the collecting chambers did not completely close and left a hole. Usually the hole is in the middle, where the wall is thinnest.
In a normal heart, the right side pumps blood only to the lungs, where the oxygen is replenished. The left side pumps blood to the rest of the body, delivering the oxygen. For that reason, the left side needs to pump harder. Generally, there's three to four times as much pressure on the left side.
If there's an ASD, this pressure difference means that some blood flows through the hole from the left to the right side. This is one cause of heart murmurs.
The closure of an ASD is performed using a special closure device. The device is attached on to a special catheter, similar to the catheter used during catheterization.
The special catheter is inserted into a vein in the leg and advanced into the heart and through the hole. The device is slowly pushed out of the special catheter allowing each side of the device to open up and cover each side of the hole, like a sandwich, closing the hole or defect.
When the device is in proper position, it is released from the special catheter. Over time, heart tissue grows over the implant, and it becomes part of the heart. The ASD closure procedure is monitored by X-ray and an ultrasound.
For more specific, detailed information regarding this or any other cardiac procedure, please call the Cardiac Cath Lab at (608)775-2233 or (800) 362-9567, ext. 52233, Monday-Friday 7 a.m.-5 p.m.