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Atrial Septal Defect Surgical Repair


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


Before your surgery:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you 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 medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.
  • Blood tests may be done to give caregivers information about how your body is working. The blood may be taken from your hand, arm, or IV.
  • General anesthesia will be used to keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. Caregivers may give you anesthesia through your IV. You may breathe it in through a mask or a tube placed down your throat. The tube may cause you to have a sore throat when you wake up.
  • A Foley catheter is a tube that caregivers put into your bladder to drain your urine into a bag. Keep the bag below your waist. This will help prevent urine flowing back into your bladder. Do not pull on the catheter, because this may cause pain and bleeding, and the catheter could come out. Keep the catheter tubing free of kinks so your urine will flow into the bag. Caregivers will remove the catheter as soon as possible to help prevent infection.

During your surgery:

You will be connected to a heart-lung machine that does the work of your heart and lungs during surgery. An incision will be made in your chest. Another incision is made in the right atrium. The hole in the septum is 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 your heart. The heart-lung machine will be stopped and your own heart and lungs will start working again. The incision in your chest will be closed with wire and stitches or staples.

After your surgery:

You will be taken to a room to rest until you are fully awake. Caregivers will monitor you closely for any problems. A bandage will cover your 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 stitches. Do not get out of bed until your caregiver says it is okay. When your caregiver sees that you are okay, you will be taken to your hospital room.

  • Chest tubes may be put into your chest during surgery. They are used to remove air, blood, or fluid from around your lungs or heart.
  • You may need to wear pressure stockings or inflatable boots after surgery. The stockings are tight and put pressure on your legs. The boots have an air pump that tightens and loosens different areas of the boots. Both of these improve blood flow and help prevent clots.
  • Deep breathing and coughing will decrease your risk of a lung infection. Take a deep breath and hold it for as long as you can. Let the air out and then cough strongly. Deep breaths help open your airway. You may be given an incentive spirometer to help you take deep breaths. Put the plastic piece in your mouth and take a slow, deep breath, then let the air out and cough. Repeat these steps 10 times every hour.
  • You will be able to eat and drink gradually after surgery. You will begin with ice chips or clear liquids such as water, broth, juice, and clear soft drinks. If your stomach does not become upset, you may then eat soft foods, such as ice cream and applesauce. Once you can eat soft foods easily, you may slowly begin to eat solid foods.
  • Medicines:
    • Pain medicine helps decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.
    • Antinausea medicine helps calm your stomach and prevent vomiting.
    • Antibiotics help treat or prevent an infection.
    • Blood pressure medicine lowers your blood pressure. A controlled blood pressure helps protect your organs, such as your heart, lungs, brain, and kidneys.
    • Blood thinners help prevent clots from forming in the blood. Blood thinners may be given before, during, and after surgery. Blood thinners make it more likely for you to bleed or bruise.
    • Diuretics help remove extra fluid that collects in your body, such as in your heart or lungs. This helps decrease your blood pressure. You may urinate more often when you take this medicine.
    • Heart medicine helps your heart beat strongly and regularly.


You may bleed more than expected, get an infection, or have trouble breathing. Air bubbles in your blood could cause a stroke. Your heart muscle or valves could be damaged. You could have problems with your heartbeat or you could have a heart attack. You may get a blood clot in your leg or arm. This may become life-threatening. Without surgery, your shortness of breath and fatigue could get worse. Blood and fluid could build up in your lungs and you may develop heart failure.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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 Surgical Repair (Inpatient Care)

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