Atrioventricular Septal Defects (AVSD)
An atrioventricular septal defect, commonly called AVSD, is a peculiar type of defect/hole in the heart. The part of the separation between the upper and lower chambers of the heart, towards the center of the heart is deficient. This leads to a variety of defects. The partial defects - partial AVSDs - premium ASD and inlet VSD behave similarly to ASD and VSD respectively.
When the defect is complete, the upper, as well as lower chambers on either side of the heart, are connected to each other. Blood flows abnormally from the left side of the heart to the right side through the defect, called the “shunt”. The shunt is large and significant in all complete AVSDs and the lung pressure is high from the excess flow of blood. This leads to heart failure, which causes symptoms like difficulty feeding (sucking at the breast followed by resting for a while and sucking again ), prolonged feeding times, sweating of the forehead while feeding etc. Repeated infections of the chest can also be a feature. AVSDs are commonly associated with Down Syndrome, a genetic defect.
All complete AVSDs need to be corrected by open heart surgery, under cardiopulmonary bypass, around 3 months of age . If not closed at the right time, certain bad changes happen in the lungs, from the excess flow of blood. Once these changes become permanent, the child is unsuitable for surgical treatment. Such children become debilitated for life and also have a short life span.
AVSD before and after correction