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Atrial Septal Defect Surgical Repair in Children


Atrial septal defect (ASD) surgery is done to close a hole in the septum (wall) between the upper chambers of your child's heart. The upper chambers are called the right atrium and the left atrium.


The week before your child's procedure:

  • Write down the date, time, and location of your child's surgery.
  • When you take your child to see his caregiver, bring a list of his medicines or the medicine bottles. Tell caregivers if your child uses herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine. If your child is allergic to any medicine, tell his caregiver.
  • Ask your child's caregiver if your child needs to stop using certain medicines before his surgery.
  • Your child may need blood tests before surgery. Talk to your child's caregiver about these or other tests he may need. Write down the date, time and location for each test.
  • Your child may be able to donate blood before surgery in case he needs it. This must be done no later than 3 days before surgery. You may also ask a family member or friend with the same blood type to donate their blood. Talk to a caregiver for more information on blood donation.

The night before your child's procedure:

Ask caregivers about directions for eating and drinking.

The day of your child's procedure:

  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery on your child. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
  • Caregivers will put an IV into your child's vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Your child is given liquids and medicine through the IV.
  • Ask your child's caregiver before you give your child any medicine the day of surgery. Bring a list of your child's medicines or the pill bottles with you to the hospital.
  • An anesthesiologist will talk to you and your child before the surgery. Your child may need medicine to keep him asleep or numb an area of his body during surgery. Tell caregivers if anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia in the past.


What will happen:

Your child will be given general anesthesia to keep him completely asleep during surgery. He will be connected to a heart-lung machine that does the work of his heart and lungs during surgery. An incision will be made in your child's chest. Another incision will be made in the right atrium. The hole in the septum will be closed with stitches, or a patch will be sewn over it. The patch may be a man-made material or a piece of heart tissue taken from the outside of the heart. The heart-lung machine will be stopped and your child's own heart and lungs will start working again. The incision in your child's chest will be closed with wire and stitches or staples.

After your child's surgery:

Your child will be taken to a room to rest until he is fully awake. Caregivers will monitor your child closely for any problems. A bandage will be used to cover his stitches or staples. This bandage keeps the area clean and dry to prevent infection. A caregiver may remove the dressing shortly after surgery to check the incision. Do not let your child get out of bed until caregivers say it is okay. When your caregiver sees that your child is okay, he will be taken to his hospital room.


  • Your child cannot make it to his surgery.
  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child has a cold or the flu.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's surgery.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • The problems for which your child is having surgery get worse.


Your child may bleed more than expected, get an infection, or have trouble breathing. Blood clots or air bubbles in your child's blood could cause a stroke. The heart muscle or valves could be damaged. Your child could have problems with his heartbeat or he could have a heart attack. Without surgery, your child's symptoms like shortness of breath could get worse. Blood and fluid could build up in your child's lungs and he may develop heart failure.

Care Agreement

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 caregivers to decide what care you want for your child.

Learn more about Atrial Septal Defect Surgical Repair in Children (Precare)

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Further information

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