An Atrial Septal Defect (ASD), also called as a hole in the heart is a congenital heart defect, usually present in newborns since birth. This is a type of congenital heart defect when there is a hole in the upper chamber of the heart, an atrial septal defect surgery is required to treat this problem. Though this condition is present since birth, small defects might close automatically during infancy or early childhood. However, the large and long-lasting defects can cause damage to the patient’s heart and lungs, making it imperative to treat it at the right time. For adults living without the diagnosis of ASD since decades, there are higher chances of heart failure or high blood pressure which can ultimately affect the arteries in the lung.
For the babies born with ASD, there might not be any visible signs or symptoms in the early stage. By the age of 30, symptoms may start showing in some adults while for many others, symptoms don’t occur until decades later. If the ASD does not close on time, the resultant excess blood flow can pose serious threats to the heart and overall health. Some common indications include:
Failure of the right side of the heart – Since the right side tends to overwork and compensate for the defect while pumping more blood to the lungs; it might tire itself and stop functioning eventually.
Irregular Heartbeats (Arrhythmia) – Since extra blood flows to the right upper chamber, it might lead to the enlargement and stretching of the atrium over time, leading to arrhythmia.
Stroke – Sometimes, the lungs might filter out blood clots, which then travel to the heart. If these travels from the right chamber to the left due to ASD and then the clot get pumped into the body, there is a higher chance of a stroke.
Pulmonary Hypertension – Patients experiencing high blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries might need to see a doctor immediately.
Other symptoms of ASD may include Shortness of breath, difficulty in breathing, respiratory infections or feeling the heartbeat or a murmur in the heart may be signs of trouble. It is best to visit a cardiac surgeon as soon as you notice any of the above symptoms so that you can get an atrial septal defect treatment without any further delay.
Before the actual treatment your surgeon will do a thorough body check-up and review all your test reports to ensure you are fit for the ASD surgery. You should ensure to follow all the instructions given by your doctor and take all the medications prescribed before the day of the surgery. Some of the common tests include:
An ASD repair is performed by a senior experienced cardiac surgeon and his team under general anesthesia. There are two common techniques to perform this surgery and the surgeon will choose the right one based on your diagnosis.
Transcatheter Procedure – The surgeon will insert a thin flexible tube, known as a catheter in your body through the groin. Using echocardiography (sound waves to create moving heart images) and angiography (using dye and x-rays to highlight the coronary arteries), the surgeon is able to successfully guide the tube to the heart. Once it reaches its destination, it then blocks the hole and the catheter is withdrawn.
Open Heart Surgery – An open heart surgery is suggested by the doctor to treat premium ASD (hole in the lower part of the atrial septum) and sinus venosus ASD (hole in the upper part of the atrial septum). In this surgery the surgeon makes an incision in the chest to reach the heart effectively. After that, a special patch is used to properly block the hole in the heart. During this procedure, a heart-lung machine is also used to support the patient.
Post Atrial Septal Defect heart surgery, recovery is comparatively faster and smoother. The patient is transferred to a normal room from the ICU after the surgery within a day or two. The morning after the surgery, the doctor removes the drainage tubes. The pacing wires are then removed after one or two days. If the doctor notices an irregular heartbeat, the pacing wires may be kept for a longer time. Patients can go home after 3-4 days but need to take extra care and precautions to maintain their heart health. Most doctors advices the patient to avoid the consumption of aspirin for 6 months after the surgery to control the formation of blood clots. Patients must also ensure that they don’t injure their chest in any way so that the incision can heal properly. Normally, movements at home must be monitored for a few days post-surgery to ensure a safer recovery.
Usually, there are less risks involves and an atrial Septal defect repair is done successfully without much complications or risk factors involved. Depending on when the defect was diagnosed, the patient’s future health can be determined. Children tend to live long and healthy lives post the surgery and become completely normal within a year or two. However, some possible complications after the surgery might include:
India has become a renowned destination for medical tourism and for atrial septal defect treatment due to the medical advances and the cost-effective packages available here. International tourists can plan their operation and stay in India at a relatively low cost compared to other countries like Europe, UK or the US and get a similar quality of treatment at 1/4th of the cost. The approx. cost would be $6,500 – $ 11,000 and approx. duration will be 7-14 days. You can choose a super specialty hospital in one of the big cities in India and get assured treatment, care and comfort for the patient and peace of mind for the family. If you have any questions regarding the treatment or the pricing, please feel free to speak to our doctors before you get ready for the surgery.