An atrial septal defect (ASD) is a hole in the atrial septum, the upper wall of the heart separating the right and left atria. Surgery is occasionally necessary to close an ASD. This most commonly occurs in the setting of a large or moderate size defect. The most common indication for surgery is the presence of dilation of heart chambers, specifically the right ventricle, due to long-standing excess blood flow. Typically surgery is performed between 2 and 5 years of age, although it can easily be accomplished earlier if necessary.
The aortic valve connects the left ventricle and the aorta. When the heart squeezes, the valve opens, allowing blood to pass from the left ventricle into the aorta. When the heart relaxes, the valve closes, preventing backflow of blood into the heart. A normal aortic valve has three separate leaflets. A bicuspid aortic valve has only two as opposed to the normal three leaflets. In many cases, two of the three leaflets are “stuck” together resulting in the bicuspid valve. A bicuspid aortic valve is a congenital heart defect, in other words, a birth defect of the heart.
Coarctation of the aorta is a narrowing of the aorta, the main blood vessel carrying oxygen-rich blood from the left ventricle of the heart to all of the organs of the body. Coarctation occurs most commonly in a short segment of the aorta adjacent to the ductus arteriosus.
A coarctation of the aorta is a narrowing of the aorta that results in the heart having to squeeze harder to force blood past the narrowed area. Most patients with coarctation require surgery to correct the condition. Often children are diagnosed as newborn infants; in this setting they frequently have symptoms and occasionally may be critically ill. When patients are diagnosed as older children they frequently come to attention because of long-standing high blood pressure.