Many babies born with ventricular septal defect will never need surgery. After birth, your doctor may want to observe your baby and treat any symptoms while waiting to see if the defect will close on its own. Depending on the size of the defect, doctors may try to delay surgery until the child is older. All persons with aventricular septal defect, however, need to take antibiotics before dental work and certain types of surgical procedures. Be sure to remind the dentist or doctor that your child has a ventricular septal defect and ask if he or she needs antibiotics before any procedure.
Medications for ventricular septal defect may include those to:
Keep the heartbeat regular. Examples include beta-blockers (Lopressor, Inderal) and digoxin (Lanoxin).
Increase the strength of the heart's contractions. Examples include digoxin (Lanoxin).
Decrease the amount of fluid in circulation. Doing so reduces the volume of blood that must be pumped. These medications, called diuretics, include furosemide (Lasix).
Surgery for a ventricular septal defect involves plugging or patching the abnormal opening between the ventricles. This usually involves open-heart surgery, which is done under general anesthesia. The surgery requires a heart-lung machine and an incision in the chest. The doctor uses patches or stitches to close the hole.
Another method - cardiac catheterization - also is being used to close some ventricular septal defects. Catheterization, which is in the investigational stage, does not require opening the chest. Rather, the doctor inserts a thin tube (catheter) into a blood vessel in the groin and guides it to the baby's heart. For a ventricular septal defect, the doctor may be able to close the hole by using a small mesh patch or plug during catheterization. The heart tissue grows around the mesh, forming a permanent seal.
Even after repair, your child will need some medical follow-up to ensure that the ventricular septal defect remains closed. Depending on the size of the ventricular septal defect and the presence or absence of any other problems, your doctor will tell you how frequently your child will need to be seen.
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