VSD (Ventricular Septal Defect)

VSD (ventricular septal defect) is one or more holes in the muscular wall that separates the left and right ventricles. The holes allow too much blood to flow to the lungs, leading to heart failure.

VSD is one of the most common congenital heart defects. In adults, a VSD can occur after a heart attack rather than from a congenital condition. It is corrected through open heart surgery.

VSD Surgery Pre-Operative Details

Your UT southwestern 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. 

You will meet with the anesthesiologist prior to the surgery to go over your medical history. You should not eat after midnight the night before the surgery.

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

For Pediatric Patients 

Children must be free from infection, including dental infections, for up to six weeks prior to surgery. Please be sure your child’s immunization records are made available to your surgeon or the nurse.

VSD Surgery 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 your heart during the surgery. The incision will then be made in the breastbone to access the heart. You are then placed on cardiopulmonary bypass, a device used to provide oxygenated blood to the body bypassing the heart and lungs so the surgeon can operate on your heart.

An incision will be made either in the right atrium, pulmonary artery, or right ventricular outflow tract to access the defect. The patch, either your own pericardial tissue or a synthetic graft, is then stitched onto the defect to close it. The heart is closed with sutures and the cardiopulmonary bypass machine is removed.

Pacing wires will be placed temporarily on the heart as a safety measure for heart rhythm abnormalities after the operation. You 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.

VSD Surgery Post-Operative Details

After the surgery, you’ll be taken to the intensive care unit and monitored for heart and lung changes. Pain is likely, so pain medications will be given appropriately. You’ll also have a breathing tube and respirator for the first few hours after surgery. It’s important to keep the incision areas clean and dry.  

The length of your hospital stay depends on how quickly you’re able to recover and perform some physical activity. Please let your doctor know immediately if you experience 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.

Request an Appointment

To schedule an appointment with a VSD expert at UT Southwestern's facilities in Dallas or for more information about our services, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.