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Ventricular SeptalDefects


A ventricular septal defect, or VSD, is a congenital heart condition sometimes referred to as a hole in the heart. The hole is in the muscular wall separating the heart’s two lower chambers – the ventricles. Blood can pass through this hole, from the left side of the heart to the right side. Because of this inefficient blood flow, the heart is forced to work harder. 

In most cases, VSD is diagnosed shortly after birth. VSDs cause a distinctive heart murmur, caused by blood flowing backward from the left ventricle into the right ventricle. Doctors can generally hear this with a stethoscope. 

Holes that are small have a 75% chance of closing on their own, without further treatment. If the hole is larger, there’s only a 5-10% chance that it will close on its own.


If the hole is small, a heart murmur may be the only sign of this condition. Other symptoms include:

  • A buildup of blood and fluid in the lungs
  • Shortness of breath
  • Slow growth rate
  • Swelling in the ankles, feet, legs or abdomen
  • Weakness or fatigue, especially among infants while eating

Left undiagnosed and untreated, a VSD may cause the following conditions:

  • Arrhythmias, caused when the heart stretches and enlarges, disrupting the heart’s normal electrical activity
  • Heart failure, due to the extra workload on the heart
  • Pulmonary hypertension, which can occur when high blood pressure and high blood volumes scar the lung’s arteries


Because VSD causes a very distinct heart murmur, most cases are diagnosed shortly after birth or in the first few weeks or months of life. To confirm the VSD, and assess its size and location, your doctor may perform:

Services & Treatment

The type of treatment needed depends of the severity of the symptoms. Children who have small VSDs and no symptoms only need occasional follow-up with a cardiologist. Checkups may range from once a month to once every 1 or 2 years.

Most VSDs that require treatment are repaired with open-heart surgery and patches in the first year of life. Doctors may also prescribe special feedings for infants to provide extra calories and nourishment.

After surgical repair, children can expect to lead healthy, active lives. However, they should have occasional checkups with a cardiologist. To avoid the risk of heart infections, they should take antibiotics before having dental work or invasive medical procedures.

Why Aurora?

You're at the Heart of Our Care 

Aurora Health Care offers coordinated care for preventing, diagnosing and treating heart and vascular disease. World-renowned heart and vascular specialists diagnose and treat all types of cardiovascular conditions and disorders, using the most advanced state-of-the-art tools and technologies available today. 

We have 15 hospitals and 155 clinics throughout eastern Wisconsin and northeastern Illinois so you can find a location that's closest to you. 

What’s all this mean to you? Convenient, coordinated and expert care. 


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