Ventricular septal defect repair

A ventricular septal defect (VSD) is a condition where there is a hole between the ventricles (the lower chambers) of your heart. This is a common defect that is present at birth, which occurs when the septum wall has a hole which then allows blood to pass through from the left to the right side of the heart. This then leads to oxygen-rich blood being pumped back to the lung instead of it being pumped out to the body, causing the heart to work much harder.

Small ventricular septal defects cause no harm as they may eventually close on their own, but medium to larger ventricular septal defects may need surgery in order to prevent future complications.

What are the related ventricular septal defect symptoms?

Signs and symptoms of ventricular septal defects often appear in the first few days, weeks, or months of a child’s life. Symptoms of VSD vary depending on the size of the hole and whether there are any other associated heart defects present. Symptoms may include:

  • Poor eating
  • Fast breathing or breathlessness
  • Getting tired easily

Signs of ventricular septal defects may not be noticed at birth, but they may appear only later in childhood if the defect is small.

How is a ventricular septal defect repaired?

In some cases, if the ventricular septal defect is small, a wait-and-watch approach may be employed to see if the defect corrects itself or not. Your baby’s health will be monitored to ensure that the condition doesn’t worsen. If the condition doesn’t correct itself, then Dr Dongo may recommend the following surgical procedures to repair the ventricular defect:

  • Catheter procedure
    Dr Dongo will insert a thin tube called a catheter through a blood vessel in the groin to reach the heart. He will then pass a specially sized mesh through the catheter and close the hole.
  • Surgical repair
    This procedure involves open-heart surgery done under general anaesthesia. A heart-lung machine will be used, and Dr Dongo will make an incision on your chest. He will then either patch or stitch close the hole.
  • Hybrid procedure
    This procedure involves surgical and catheter-based techniques. The surgeon will make a small incision in your chest, and a heart-lung machine may be used to ensure blood is still pumped throughout the body. The hole will then be closed through a catheter that is inserted into the incision.

After the ventricular septal repair procedure, follow up appointments will be scheduled to ensure that the defect remains closed.


A cardiothoracic surgeon is a specialist medical doctor who performs operations on the heart, lungs, esophagus, and other organs in the chest. Dr Lehlohonolo Dongo's Qualifications.


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