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Atrial Septal Defect Repair

Clinical Heart and Vascular Center

Among the nation’s leading cardiothoracic surgery centers, UT Southwestern Medical Center offers a surgery to repair atrial septal defects.

These heart defects and their related complications are unique to every patient, so UT Southwestern’s heart experts tailor this open surgery to each patient as appropriate.

Skilled Surgical Repair for ASD

UT Southwestern’s experienced cardiothoracic surgeons perform this open surgery to repair an atrial septal defect (ASD), a hole in the heart’s septum. In most cases, ASD is a congenital heart condition (meaning people are born with it), and symptoms commonly appear when patients are in their 20s.

UT Southwestern’s experienced heart doctors have the expertise necessary to properly diagnose and repair ASD. Our Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program provides complete diagnostic, treatment, and consultative services for patients age 16 and older with all types of congenital heart disease, including those who are newly diagnosed as adults. We offer specialized care that can minimize or prevent complications of congenital heart disease and help patients live longer, healthier lives.

UT Southwestern is also home to a dedicated Cardiac Rehabilitation Program. Cardiac rehabilitation is a critical component of recovery and can prevent future heart disease.

ASD Repair: What to Expect

Preoperative Details

The surgeon provides specific instructions to the patient prior to the ASD repair procedure and discusses risks such as bleeding, infection, or adverse reaction to anesthesia.

Patients also meet with the anesthesiologist prior to the surgery to review their medical history. Patients should not eat after midnight the night before the surgery.

On the day of surgery, the patient arrives at the hospital, registers, and changes into a hospital gown. A nurse reviews the patient’s charts to make sure there are no problems.

The anesthesiologist then starts an IV, and the patient is taken to the operating room, where the surgeon verifies the patient’s name and procedure before any medication is given. Surgery will begin once the patient is under anesthesia.

Operative Details

Before the surgery begins, a cardiologist starts a transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) so the surgeon can look at the heart structure during surgery.

The surgeon then makes an incision in the breastbone to reach the heart, and the patient is placed on a cardiopulmonary bypass machine – which pumps blood to the body, bypassing the heart and lungs except for the coronary arteries – while the heart is temporarily stopped. An incision is then made in the heart’s right atrium to access the defect.

Rather than using a patch to close the hole in the septum (atrial septal defect closure), the surgeon closes the defect with sutures.

Once the sutures are in place, the cardiopulmonary bypass machine is removed. Pacing wires are placed temporarily on the heart to prevent heart rhythm abnormalities after the operation. Chest tubes are placed to collect residual blood or fluid in the chest after the surgery, and the skin is closed with stitches or staples.

Postoperative Details

After surgery, patients are taken to the intensive care unit and monitored. Pain is likely, and pain medication is given as appropriate. Patients also are on a respirator and have a breathing tube for the first few hours after surgery.

The length of the hospital stay depends on how quickly patients recover and can perform some physical activity.

Support Services

UT Southwestern’s cardiac rehabilitation specialists create customized plans that integrate proper nutrition, exercise, and, if necessary, nicotine cessation into patients’ lifestyles to improve their cardiovascular health.

Clinical Trials

As one of the nation’s top academic medical centers, UT Southwestern offers a number of clinical trials aimed at improving the outcomes of patients with cardiovascular disease.

Clinical trials often give patients access to leading-edge treatments that are not yet widely available. Eligible patients who choose to participate in one of UT Southwestern’s clinical trials might receive treatments years before they are available to the public.

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Search for opportunities to participate in a heart or vascular research study.

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