What is VSD or Ventricular Septal defect?
The heart has four chambers, where the upper two are called the atria, and the lower two are called the ventricles. A VSD or a Ventricular Septal Defect is the medical term for a hole or a gap in the lower chambers or ventricles. Due to this hole, the blood from the left ventricle passes into the right ventricle. The left ventricle consists of oxygen-rich blood, which, due to the hole, gets passed into the right ventricle and back into the lungs to be oxygenated again. It makes the heart pump all the extra blood again.
A small ventricular septal defect causes no problems and even heals on its own without external intervention. However, larger ventricular septal defects need to be repaired by surgery.
VSD is a condition present since birth, although it is also associated with inherited diseases like Down’s syndrome.
Diagnosis of a Ventricular septal defect
VSD is diagnosed through the common tests used to diagnose heart defects. These tests include chest X-rays, electrocardiograms, and echocardiograms. These tests help to view the heart or find irregular rhythms in the heart. The doctor may ask for further tests after hearing heart murmurs or signs of other defects.
A ventricular septal defect occurs at birth; hence the symptoms can be seen within the first few days or weeks after the birth.
Symptom of VSD may include:
- Lack of appetite
- Breathlessness, trouble to breathe normally
- Exhaustion, easily tired
- The presence of blue tints due to the lack of oxygen in the blood
- Abnormality in the rhythm of the heart
If the ventricular septal defect is minor, the symptoms are not seen at birth. Instead, they will be seen after the baby grows up. In adulthood, the defect could be diagnosed after the doctor hears murmurs in the heart with a stethoscope.
The symptoms in a child or an adult are very similar.
If left untreated, VSD can lead to other problems in the heart. These can include Arrhythmia, Heart failure, and Pulmonary hypertension.
Treatment of VSD depends on the severity of the disease, and the treatment procedure depends on the type of care the patient can handle.
- Regular check-up
Minor heart defects like small VSD do not require surgery or any treatment. However, the patients with these defects usually come in for regular heart check-ups to ensure the defect is not becoming severe with time.
Medicines or drugs may also help the heart work better but do not necessarily treat VSD. Drugs could be used to lower the pace of the heart, relax the blood vessels, prevent clots, reduce the strain on the heart and help with the mechanism of blood flow. However, the drugs may not work and may worsen the septal defect. Hence, they must always be taken after several consultations.
VSD closure surgery is performed if the VSD is large or getting worse, and all other methods have been exhausted. Surgery to fix the ventricular septal defect can be performed by two methods.
Intra-cardiac technique: This is open-heart surgery, where the patient is hooked to a heart-lung machine for the duration of the surgery. The surgeon then covers the gap or the ventricular septal defect by sewing a patch of fabric or a part of pericardium over the VSD. In due course of time, by the deposition of tissues over the patch, the hole covers itself up, and the heart recovers completely. This technique is used on children.
Using catheter: A catheter is a thin tube used to perform medical surgeries. If the VSD is treated using a catheter, the catheter will be directed to the heart by running through the blood vessels. The catheter is used to treat minor heart defects.
Treatments for children
Many VSDs heal and close on their own. However, if the VSD does not close, surgery might be the only option left. The following medications are used to help the baby become strong enough to undergo surgery:
- Diuretics: This helps get rid of excess fluid from the body.
- Digoxin: This may be used to slow down the heartbeat and make it stronger. Slowing down the heartbeat reduces the strain on the heart.
If the baby is not growing or eating sufficient nutrients, he might need a feeding tube to help increase the calories and nutrients inside his body.
If the VSD is large, the baby may need to come for regular check-ups, prescribed medications, and adjust feeding. For large VSD, closure by surgery is recommended during the first year of the baby’s life. It prevents any changes by abnormal growth in other parts of the body. The more significant the baby’s symptoms the earlier surgery is recommended.
VSD closure surgery cost in India
The VSD closure surgery cost in India ranges from INR 2.5 Lakhs to INR 7 Lakhs. The success rate of this surgery is 98.5%. The patient needs to be admitted for about three to six days.
VSD closure surgery in India is offered at some of the best hospitals. The care provided is optimal, and the procedure has a very high success rate. However, regular health check-ups must be done and proper care should be taken.