ASD-Atrial Septal Defect
The normal heart has four chambers. The
two top chambers receive blood from the
body and lungs. These chambers are called
the atria. The two bottom chambers pump
blood to the body and lungs. These are
called the ventricles. These chambers are
separated by walls known as the atrial
septum and ventricular septum.
Atrial Septal Defect
An atrial septal defect (ASD) is a congenital
heart defect. It is present at birth. This type
of defect is a hole in the wall (septum)
between the right and left atria. This hole
allows blood to flow across from the left
side, where the pressure is high, to the right
side, where the pressure is lower.
These defects may vary in size. They may
be present in many places in the atrial wall.
Rarely, a person may have more than one of
Signs and Symptoms
Sometimes an abnormal heart sound is heard
during a routine exam. You will be referred
to a cardiologist for further testing. A
healthy person should have no symptoms as
a result of this defect.
A member of the health care team will do a
complete exam and a health history.
An ultrasound of the heart is called an
echocardiogram. It may be done to confirm
the presence of the defect. It is also done to
find the site and the size of the defect. If the
ASD is large, then the right upper chamber
of the heart may become enlarged.
Regular check-ups should continue with
your regular doctor. We may suggest a
return to our Cardiology clinic at times.
These visits may only be as often as every
year or two.
Adults and children with atrial septal defects
have no restrictions. They should keep on
leading healthy, normal lives.
Some ASDs close up and require no further
The reasons to repair an ASD include right
sided heart enlargement and a chance for
heart rhythm problems later on in life. The
treatment options will be based on the size
and the site of the ASD.
There are two ways to repair an atrial septal
defect. One way is with a cardiac
catheterization. This includes general
anesthesia. A catheter is inserted into a
large blood vessel in the leg. It goes up into
the heart. A device, shaped like a dumbbell,
is inserted to plug up the hole. Only certain
ASDs can be closed with this device. This
often includes staying in the hospital for one
Another way to close the ASD is with open-
heart surgery. A cardiothoracic surgeon
would discuss this with you. This would
include staying in the hospital for 3-5 nights.
There are risks and benefits with both the
cardiac catheterization and open-heart
surgery. Your doctor will discuss this with
Who Do I Call With Questions?
The doctor or nurse or our clinic staff can
answer any questions.
Pediatric Cardiology (608) 263-6420
Adult Congenital Heart Disease
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is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 2/2017. University of Wisconsin Hospital
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6864