Pediatric Atrioventricular Septal Defects

Pediatric Atrioventricular Septal Defects

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What is an atrioventricular septal defect (AVSD)?

Pediatric atrioventricular septal defects (AVSD) occur when a hole or holes are present in the heart wall, and the valves that control blood flow between the chambers are incorrectly formed.

Expanded overview

Atrioventricular septal defects, also known as atrioventricular canal defects or endocardial cushion defects, cause blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body not to be properly controlled. AVSD can lead to the blood having less oxygen or too much blood flowing into the lungs AVSD is most common in infants with Down syndrome (about 15 to 20 percent of newborns with Down Syndrome will have AVSD).

A complete AVSD occurs when there is a large hole in the center of the heart. A partial (or incomplete) AVSD occurs when the hole or holes are near the center of the heart.

Causes of AVSD are still relatively unknown, but may include genetic and environmental factors. Babies born with Down syndrome may also have chromosomal trigger.

What are the symptoms of atrioventricular septal defects?

  • Heart murmur (irregular heartbeat)
  • Weak pulse
  • Sweating
  • Poor/stunted growth
  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • General fatigue (tiredness)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Become easily tired while playing
  • Swelling of legs and belly
  • In more extreme cases: Cyanosis (bluish discoloration of the skin, fingernails and mouth due to lack of oxygen) or congestive heart failure.

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