Atrial Septal Defect Repair

Pre-Operative Details

Your surgeon will give specific instructions and details before the surgery, including risks such as bleeding, infection, or adverse reaction to anesthesia. Please be sure to contact your insurance company for coverage.

For Pediatric Patients

It's important that children are free from infection, including dental infections, up to six weeks prior to surgery. Please be sure that your child's immunization records are made available to your surgeon or the nurse.

Please meet with the anesthesiologist prior to the surgery to go over your child’s medical history. The child should not eat after midnight the night before your surgery.

On the day of surgery, you and your child will arrive at the hospital and register. A nurse will then review your child’s chart to make sure there are no problems and get all the paperwork in order. The anesthesiologist will then start an IV and your child will be taken to the operating room, where the surgeon will verify your child's name and procedure before any medication is given. Surgery will begin once the child is under anesthesia.

Operative Details

Before an incision is made, a cardiologist will do a transesophageal echocardiogram to provide the surgeon a way of looking at the structure of the heart during the surgery. The incision will then be made in the breastbone to access the heart. The patient is then placed on cardiopulmonary bypass, a device used to provide oxygenated blood to the body bypassing the heart and lungs so that the surgeon can operate. An incision will be made in an atrium to access the defect.

Rather than using a patch, the surgeon directly closes the defect using sutures. The heart is closed with sutures and the cardiopulmonary bypass machine is removed. Pacing wires will then be placed temporarily on the heart as a safety measure for heart rhythm abnormalities after the operation. The patient will also have chest tubes placed to collect any residual blood or fluid left in the chest after the surgery. The skin is then closed with stitches or staples.

Post-Operative Details

After the surgery, your child will be taken to the intensive care unit and monitored for heart and lung changes. Pain is likely, so pain medication will be given. There will also be a breathing tube and respirator for the first few hours after surgery. It is important to keep the incision areas clean and dry.

The length of the hospital stay depends on how quickly the patient is able to recover and perform some physical activity. Please let your doctor know immediately if your child experiences fevers, severe pain, redness, swelling, warmth where the incisions were made, or drainage from the incisions. Your surgeon will give specific instructions about recovery time.