The actual cause of Atrioventricular canal defect is not known. The defect develops before birth when the heart is developing in the fetus. In partial defect, there is a hole in the wall that separates the two upper chambers, atria. It is often associated with mitral valve defect or leakage of mitral valve that separates the atria from the ventricles.
In complete defect, there is a hole in the center of heart where the atrial and ventricular wall meets. This results in mixing of oxygen-rich and oxygen-poor blood. There is only one valve between the atria and ventricles. It results in enlargement of the heart and the organ works harder to pump blood.
ECG traces the electrical activity of the heart, while echocardiogram produces visuals of the heart while it is functioning. It helps to locate hole, an abnormality in the heart valves, and the difference in the blood flow in the heart.
Chest x-ray obtains images of the heart and helps in the identification of heart enlargement.
Cardiac catheterization is a procedure in which a small tube is inserted into the blood vessel and guided to the heart. A dye injected into the blood vessel helps to visualize the different structures of the heart and the blood vessels.
Surgery is the most common treatment suggested for Atrioventricular canal defect. In this surgical procedure, the hole is closed with a patch. The lining of the heart start growing over the patch and becomes a part of the organ.
In surgical repair of partial atrioventricular septal defect, the mitral valve is repaired. If the valve is beyond repair, it is replaced with a new one.
In the treatment of complete atrioventricular septal defect, the single valve between the atria and ventricles is separated into two halves. The separated valves are then present on either side of the repaired septum. Replacement of valve is recommended if the valves cannot be separated into two halves.
Lifelong follow-up is needed after a surgical repair of the septal defect. Follow-ups are generally recommended once a year or more frequently depending on the problem.
Preventive antibiotics are suggested if the child has persistent heart defects after the surgery, or has received an artificial heart valve.
Some complication of the defect like heart valve leaks may require additional surgery to treat the condition.
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