This congenital defect can be evident at birth and may repair itself over time. It is characterized by a “hole” that enables blood flow through both compartments of the heart, the left and right atria.
Diagnostics to detect atrial septal defects include:
Electrocardiogram (EKG) — Electrical pulses generated by your heart are measured and evaluated to determine if there are any anomalies or unusual conditions present.
Chest X-ray — A standard test that can see if there is deposit or fluid buildup in or around your heart. A chest X-ray can detect anomalies such as an enlarged heart or improperly formed valves.
Echocardiogram — Sound waves are directed to your heart through a device that is held up to your chest. The sound waves cause a pattern that allows the physician to see if valves and other parts of the heart are operating properly.
Cardiac catheterization — A liquid dye is injected through a narrow tube (catheter) into an artery leading to the heart to allow special pictures to be taken to see if there are blockages or narrowed arteries that could pose a health threat.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) — A combination of a magnetic field and radio waves creates three-dimensional images of your heart and other parts of your body to determine if disease or physical anomalies are present.
Pulse oximetry — A simple test to determine whether the oxygenated blood in your body is mixing with deoxygenated blood — which could diagnose certain heart conditions.
Procedures to treat atrial septal defects include:
Open-heart surgery — Traditional “open” surgery during which the defect is closed through an incision in the chest.
Cardiac catheterization — A minimally invasive procedure that involves using a narrow tube (catheter) to deliver a mesh plug to the area of the heart that needs repair.