Ventricular Septal Defect

What is Ventricular Septal Defect in Children?

A ventricular septal defect, also known as VSD, is a congenital heart defect. A hole appears between the heart's two lower chambers.

This congenital defect can allow extra blood flow into the lungs and cause pressure imbalances.

A ventricular septal defect can lead to problems in the heart's electrical system causing irregular rhythm, called arrhythmias.

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A mother and her babyPrognosis of a Ventricular Septal Defect

The long-term prognosis of a ventricular septal defect in children is usually good, with most children fully recovering and leading everyday lives. However, the size of the defect and other factors may cause some complications that need to be monitored.

In some cases, there may be a significant risk of serious complications, including heart failure and more life-threatening problems. After the surgery, these children should have regular follow-up appointments with their cardiologist to monitor the defect.

Parents must be aware of all the potential risks associated with VSD in children and seek medical advice quickly if any concerns arise.

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and symptoms vary depending on the size and severity of the defect. Mild cases may have no apparent signs or symptoms at all. Severe cases may cause several symptoms, including:

  • Rapid breathing or difficulty catching breath
  • Excessive sweating, particularly during feedings
  • Poor weight gain or failure to thrive
  • Swelling in the legs, ankles, or abdomen
  • Bluish tint to the skin due to lack of oxygen (cyanosis)
  • Fast heart rateā€¢ Heart murmur or 'extra' heartbeat sound
  • Excessive tiredness and fatigue
  • Poor appetite or refusal to feed
  • Fainting spells or dizziness

Factors that Increase the Risk

Risk factors for VSD include:

  • A family history of congenital heart defects
  • A mother with certain infections during pregnancy
  • Chromosomal abnormalities• Certain environmental exposure in utero
  • Being born prematurely
  • Having low birth weight
  • Being exposed to smoking and alcohol during pregnancy.

A mixed family of fourDiagnosis

Diagnosing a ventricular septal defect in children is through imaging, physical exams, and electrocardiograms.


A echocardiogram (ultrasound) is the most widely used diagnostic tool to image the heart and detect any defects. This provides detailed images and can also measure blood flow between ventricles.

Physical exam

A physical exam checks for murmurs or other signs of VSD in children.

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

This measures the heart's electrical activity and detects any irregularities.

Surgery to Close the Defect

The treatment of ventricular septal defects in children depends on the size and type of defect. Minor defects may not require treatment, and the hole may close over time with no intervention.

Larger VSDs may need to be surgically closed or patched if surgery is necessary if it will involve open-heart surgery. A cardiac surgeon will use stitches or a patch to complete the effect.

CHRISTUS Children's - The Heart Center

CHRISTUS Children's specializes in pediatric care for infants, children and adolescents as well as maternal and fetal care for women with high-risk and routine pregnancies. From birth to age 18, CHRISTUS Children’s provides comprehensive, coordinated care from a team of pediatric and maternal experts.

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