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Atrial Septal Defect in Children


An atrial septal defect (ASD) is a hole in the septum (wall) between the upper chambers (atria) of your child's heart. The hole may be small or large. An ASD causes a problem with the way blood moves through your child's heart. This makes his heart work harder to pump blood. Over time, an ASD can damage your child's heart and lungs.

Atrial Septal Defect


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that your child may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your child's medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done to your child. Make sure all of your questions are answered.

Emotional support:

Stay with your child for comfort and support as often as possible while he is in the hospital. Ask another family member or someone close to the family to stay with your child when you cannot be there. Bring items from home that will comfort your child, such as a favorite blanket or toy.

Your child may need extra oxygen

if his blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. Your child may get oxygen through a mask placed over his nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in his nostrils. Ask your child's healthcare provider before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.


  • A heart monitor is an EKG that stays on all of the time to record your child's heart's electrical activity.
  • A pulse oximeter is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in your child's blood.


may be given to strengthen your child's heart or control his heartbeat. Medicine may also be given to lower pressure in your child's lungs, prevent blood clots, or remove extra fluid.


  • Blood and urine tests show your child's kidney function and give information about his overall health.
  • An EKG test records your child's heart rhythm and how fast his heart beats. It is used to check for abnormal heartbeats and other heart problems.
  • X-ray, CT, or MRI pictures will show the size and location of your child's ASD. It may also show problems in his heart or lungs, such as enlarged heart. Do not let your child enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if he has any metal in or on his body.
  • An echocardiogram is a type of ultrasound. Sound waves are used to show the size of the ASD and how blood flows through your child's heart. It can also show how well his heart is pumping. Your child may need a transthoracic or transesophageal echocardiogram. Ask his healthcare provider about these types of echocardiogram.
  • A cardiac catheterization is a test used to show how well your child's heart is working or to measure pressure. A tube is guided into his heart through a blood vessel in his leg or arm. He may be given contrast liquid to help his heart show up better in pictures. Tell his healthcare provider if he has ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid.


  • Open heart surgery may be needed to close the ASD with stitches or a patch.
  • Cardiac catheterization is a procedure that is used to close the ASD through a catheter (thin tube). The catheter is placed into an artery in your child's groin and guided up to his heart. A small stitch or patch is used to close the hole.


An ASD may cause your child to have an abnormal heartbeat. It may also cause damage to his lungs, or heart failure. As your child gets older, blood clots can develop and cause a stroke. Any of these problems can become life-threatening.


You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2018 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Atrial Septal Defect in Children (Inpatient Care)

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