A ventricular septal defect (VSD) is a defect in the ventricular septum, the wall dividing the left and right ventricles of the heart. The extent of the opening may vary from pin size to complete absence of the ventricular septum, creating one common ventricle. The ventricular septum consists of an inferior muscular and superior membranous portion and is extensively innervated with conducting cardiomyocytes.
The membranous portion, which is close to the atrioventricular node, is most commonly affected in adults and older children in the United States.It is also the type that will most commonly require surgical intervention, comprising over 80% of cases.
Membranous ventricular septal defects are more common than muscular ventricular septal defects, and are the most common congenital cardiac anomaly.
Most cases do not need treatment and heal at the first years of life. Treatment is either conservative or surgical. Smaller congenital VSDs often close on their own, as the heart grows, and in such cases may be treated conservatively. Some cases may necessitate surgical intervention, i.e. with the following indications:
- Failure of congestive cardiac failure to respond to medications
- VSD with pulmonic stenosis
- Large VSD with pulmonary hypertension
- VSD with aortic regurgitation
For the surgical procedure, a heart-lung machine is required and a median sternotomy is performed. Percutaneous endovascular procedures are less invasive and can be done on a beating heart, but are only suitable for certain patients. Repair of most VSDs is complicated by the fact that the conducting system of the heart is in the immediate vicinity.