Ventricular Septal Defect
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(Flash Animation, less than 70KB)
How Is It Treated?

Babies with congestive heart failure because of volume overload to the lungs may be treated with diuretics such as Lasix (Furosemide) and Aldactone (Spironolactone). These medications can help to reduce the volume of fluid in the lung, which makes it easier for the infant to breathe and eat.

Digoxin may also be prescribed. It increases the squeeze (contraction) of the heart muscle and helps it to function more effectively.

For those infants whose feeding is affected, nutritional additives may be used to fortify the baby's milk. In more severe cases, nourishment with a naso-gastric tube may be necessary.

If slow growth and other symptoms continue despite treatment with medication, surgery may be required to close the ventricular septal defect. The benefits of this surgery are usually dramatic: paleness and rapid breathing are corrected and the rate of growth becomes normal. The mortality risk in this type of surgery is very low.

VSDs may be closed by patching (see animation) or suturing during open heart surgery. Small defects may be closed with simple sutures using a monofilament thread made of Prolene or Polypropylene. Larger holes may be covered with patches made of pieces of pericardium (the membrane that covers the heart) or of silk or a synthetic material such as Dacron or Teflon.