Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD)

  • Medical Author:
    John Mersch, MD, FAAP

    Dr. Mersch received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego, and prior to entering the University Of Southern California School Of Medicine, was a graduate student (attaining PhD candidate status) in Experimental Pathology at USC. He attended internship and residency at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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Ventricular septal defect facts

  • VSD is a hole in the wall (septum) separating the ventricles of the heart.
  • VSD is the most common type of heart malformation present at birth (congenital heart disease).
  • VSD lets blood shunt from the left ventricle to the right ventricle.
  • VSD can overwork the heart.
  • VSD can cause excess pressure in the blood vessels to the lungs (pulmonary hypertension).
  • VSD, if small, usually needs no treatment.
  • VSD, if large, needs medical management and then surgery to repair the VSD.
  • VSD generally has an excellent long-term outlook.

What is a ventricular septal defect (VSD)?

A ventricular septal defect (VSD) is a heart malformation present at birth. Any condition that is present at birth can also be termed a "congenital" condition. A VSD, therefore, is a type of congenital heart disease (CHD). The heart with a VSD has a hole in the wall (the septum) between its two lower chambers (the ventricles).

How common is a VSD?

The most frequent types of congenital malformations affect the heart. It is estimated that approximately eight in 1,000 newborns have CHD. A VSD is the most frequent of the various types of CHD (25%-30% of all CHD). Approximately one infant in 500 will be born with a VSD.

What is the normal design of the heart?

The heart is made up of four separate chambers. The upper right chamber (atrium) receives blood back from the body with much of the oxygen extracted by the body organs and tissues. The blood is then pumped through a one-way valve into the lower right chamber (ventricle) from which it is pumped to the lungs to be again enriched with oxygen. This highly oxygenated blood then returns to the upper left sided chamber (atrium) and next passes through a one way valve into the lower left chamber (ventricle). From there, the oxygenated blood is pumped out into a large blood vessel (the aorta) and is distributed throughout the body through arteries.

The two upper chambers (right and left atria) are separated by a wall of muscle called the septum. Similarly the two lower chambers (right and left ventricles) are also separated by a separate muscular septum. These septa (plural of septum) keep the lower oxygenated blood that has returned from the body from mixing with the highly oxygenated blood which has returned from the lungs.

A VSD is a hole in the ventricular septum.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/8/2015

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