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Pediatric Atrial Septal Defect (ASD)

What is an atrial septal defect?

Anatomy of the heart, normal

An atrial septal defect is an opening in the atrial septum, or dividing wall between the two upper chambers of the heart, known as the right and left atria. ASD can be a congenital (present at birth) heart defect, or it can result from the failure of normal postnatal closure of a hole that is present in the heart of every fetus.  

Normally, oxygen-poor (blue) blood returns to the right atrium from the body, travels to the right ventricle, then is pumped into the lungs where it receives oxygen. Oxygen-rich (red) blood returns to the left atrium from the lungs, passes into the left ventricle, and then is pumped out to the body through the aorta.

An atrial septal defect allows oxygen-rich (red) blood to pass from the left atrium, through the opening in the septum, and then mix with oxygen-poor (blue) blood in the right atrium.

Illustration of the anatomy of a heart with an atrial septal defect

Atrial septal defects occur in a small percentage of children born with congenital heart disease. For unknown reasons, girls have atrial septal defects twice as often as boys.

Prevention and Risk Assessment

Diagnosis

Treatment

Locations that Treat this Condition

Locations that Treat this Condition

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Departments

Departments

Cardiac Catheterization

Our heart team performs hundreds of cardiac catheterization procedures a year, treating patients of all ages, including those with complex heart conditions.

Cardiac Surgery

Our pediatric heart surgery team performs twice the number of surgeries of any other hospital in the region, with some of the best outcomes in the nation.

Prenatal Cardiology Program

Our heart care begins before babies are even born, in our dedicated Prenatal Cardiology Program, where we diagnose and even treat prenatal heart conditions.

Children's National Heart Institute

Our expert pediatric heart team, including more than 40 subspecialties, offer advanced heart care and excellent outcomes for thousands of children every year.

Cardiology

The pediatric heart experts at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., provide advanced care for unborn babies, children and young adults with heart conditions.

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Xiomara's Story

xiomara teaser 2

When Xiomara's mother Elena was 20 weeks pregnant, her ultrasound uncovered something that didn’t look right. Elena was referred to Children’s National Hospital to meet with Mary Donofrio, M.D., in the Fetal Heart Program who flagged a few potential heart issues and continued to monitor Xiomara throughout the remainder of the pregnancy.

Read More of Xiomara's Story