Interventional Treatments for Congenital Heart Disease

Minimally invasive treatment options for congenital heart disease

Minimally invasive treatment options for congenital heart disease

Congenital heart defects are structural problems with the heart that are present at birth. Many congenital heart defects may be treated during childhood, but in some cases they are discovered later in life. Such adult congenital heart disease may require additional treatment, such as medication, surgery or less invasive procedures performed by an interventional cardiologist. There are several types of procedures; your physician will determine which is best for you.

Scripps interventional cardiologists treat many congenital heart defects using minimally invasive catheter-based techniques. These defects include:

Atrial septal defect (ASD)

In the womb, babies have an opening between the left and right upper chambers of the heart. Normally, tissue grows to close the opening before the baby is born, but if it does not, this hole in the heart is known as an atrial septal defect (ASD).

If the opening is small, ASD may not cause symptoms or require treatment, but large openings can cause the heart to swell, put pressure on the lungs and reduce the amount of oxygen in the blood. This can cause shortness of breath and decrease the amount of exercise the person can do as they get older. Nowadays, most ASDs can be treated with minimally invasive, catheter-based techniques that are done with only local anesthesia.

Ventricular septal defect (VSD)

People who have a ventricular septal defect (VSD) have a hole in the wall between the heart’s lower chambers (ventricles). In some cases this can lead to pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure) and weakening of the heart and may require treatment.

Whether the treatment must be done with surgery or with a minimally invasive, catheter-based procedure depends on the location and size of the hole, and whether any other medical problems are present. 

Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA)

Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) is a hole in the tube in the aorta, the main artery through which blood flows from the heart to the body. In adults, it can lead to shortness of breath and swelling of the heart.

Nowadays, the defect can be treated through a minimally invasive catheter-based procedure, performed under local anesthesia and usually requiring only one day in the hospital.

Patent foramen ovale (PFO)

The foramen ovale is an opening between the left and right chambers of the heart that is present in the womb. This hole normally begins to close as soon as a baby takes its first breath of air and closes completely within several months. However, in approximately one out of four adults, it does not close entirely, and this is called a patent foramen ovale (PFO).

In people who have strokes without a known cause, particularly when they are younger, or in people who have problems getting enough oxygen in the blood but have normal lungs and otherwise normal hearts, closing the PFO with a minimally invasive, catheter-based technique can be considered.