Septal Defect Surgery

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with a septal defect of the heart, it’s important to know that the cardiac surgery team at Northwest Regional Heart & Vascular Center has extensive experience in treating this condition.

You can rely on our experts for a comprehensive evaluation of your condition and the most appropriate treatment recommendations for your individual situation.

What is a septal defect?

A septal defect is a hole or opening in the muscular wall between the two atrial (upper) or ventricular (lower) chambers of the heart. Types of septal defects include:

  • Atrial septal defect (ASD)
  • Patent foramen ovale (PFO)
  • Ventricular septal defect (VSD)

All septal defects are congenital (present at birth), and some can close on their own during childhood. Other small septal defects don’t close but also don’t cause problems, so treatment isn’t required. Many larger or persistent septal defects, however, eventually require surgical correction because they can cause complications such as heart failure, arrhythmias (heart rhythm disorders) or stroke symptoms.

How is a septal defect treated?

Options for septal defect closure include:

  • Catheter-based treatment – In this procedure, the doctor inserts a catheter (thin, hollow tube) into a blood vessel in the groin and guides it to the heart using x-ray imaging. Through the catheter, the doctor places a mesh patch or plug to close the hole in the heart wall; the heart tissue grows around the mesh, permanently sealing the hole.
  • Open-chest surgery – Through an incision in the chest, the surgeon accesses the heart and uses patches the close the defect. This type of surgery requires use of a heart-lung machine.
  • Minimally invasive surgery – Many types of septal defects can be performed minimally invasively using endoscopic robotically assisted technology, which means smaller incisions, a shorter hospital stay and faster recovery than open surgery.

Which treatment is right for me?

The most appropriate procedure depends on the type and size of septal defect you have. At Northwest Regional Heart & Vascular Center, septal defect closure can almost always be performed minimally invasively. The average hospital stay is three days and no activity restrictions are necessary after surgery.

Notably, a foramen secundum defect is the most common type of atrial septal defect – and it can be closed with your own tissue using minimally invasive surgical techniques. This avoids placing a foreign body (patch or plug) that requires you to take blood-thinning medication afterwards.

Would you like to learn more about septal defect surgery in Portland? Please call us to schedule a consultation: (503) 261-4430.