Heart and Blood Conditions

Atrial Septal Defect

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    • For appointments in Seattle, Bellevue, Everett, Federal Way, Olympia, Tri-Cities and Wenatchee, call 206-987-2515.
    • For appointments in Tacoma and Silverdale, call 253-272-1812.
    • For appointments in Alaska, call 907-339-1945.
    • How to schedule

    If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

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  • Locations +

    • Seattle Children's Main Campus: 206-987-2515
    • Bellevue Clinic and Surgery Center: 425-454-4644
    • Everett: 425-304-6080
    • South Clinic in Federal Way: 253-838-5878
    • Olympia: 360-459-5009
    • South Sound Cardiology Clinics: 253-272-1812
    • Tri-Cities (Richland): 509-946-0976
    • Wenatchee: 509-662-9266
    • Pediatric Cardiology of Alaska: 907-339-1945
    • Seattle Children's doctors provide many cardiac services at regional sites throughout the Pacific Northwest. See our complete list of Heart Center locations.

  • Refer a patient +

    • If you are a provider, fax a New Appointment Request Form (NARF) (PDF) (DOC) to 206-985-3121 or 866-985-3121 (toll-free).
    • No pre-referral work-up is required for most conditions. If you have already done testing such as an EKG, Holter monitor or echocardiogram, please fax this information as well as relevant clinic notes and the NARF to 206-985-3121 or 866-985-3121 (toll-free).
    • Your patient will be seen as quickly as possible by the provider who is the best match for managing the current problem.
    • View our complete Heart Center Referral Information (PDF).

What is atrial septal defect?

Babies born with atrial (pronounced a-tree-ahl) septal defect (ASD) have an opening in the wall separating the 2 upper chambers of their heart: the right atrium and left atrium. The dividing wall is called the septum.

Normally, the heart works this way:

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

When there is an opening between the atria, oxygen-rich blood passes from the left atrium into the right atrium. With small openings, a small amount of blood passes between the atria and the child doesn’t have symptoms.

With larger openings, more blood passes to the right side of the heart. This causes the right side to be overworked and enlarged. Also, the lungs receive extra blood, which causes higher pressures than normal in the blood vessels of the lungs (pulmonary hypertension).

ASD

Reprinted with permission www.heart.org. ©2009, American Heart Association, Inc.

Atrial Septal Defect in Children

It is normal for babies to have a small opening, called the foramen ovale, between their atria while they are developing in the womb. This opening usually closes soon after birth.

Some babies have an abnormal opening, an ASD. Most of the time, it’s unclear why it developed. Almost 4 in every 100,000 babies have an ASD. This defect is about twice as common in girls as it is in boys.

Some children with ASD are born with other heart defects (congenital heart defects), such as ventricular septal defects. Children with certain genetic syndromes, such as Down syndrome, are at increased risk for developing an ASD.

Atrial Septal Defect at Seattle Children’s

Our heart team has years of experience in the treatment of children with atrial septal defects. This includes using cardiac catheterization to close the opening in the septum with a device or performing surgery to close the opening. We have a pediatric cardiac anesthesia team and a Cardiac Intensive Care Unit ready to care for children who need to have heart surgery.

When you come to Seattle Children’s, a team of people will take care of your child. Along with your child’s heart doctor (cardiologist), you are connected with nurses, child life specialists, social workers and others, if their expertise is needed. We work together to meet all of your child’s health needs and help your family through this experience.

Seattle Children’s has been treating children since 1907. Our team members are trained in their fields and in meeting the unique needs of children. For example, the doctors who give your child anesthesia are board certified in pediatric anesthesiology. This means they have extra years of training in how to take care of kids. Our child life specialists know how to help children understand their illnesses and treatments in ways that make sense for their age.

The Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program shared by Seattle Children’s and the University of Washington can help with care throughout your child’s life.

Contact Us

Contact the Heart Center at 206-987-2015 for a cardiac referral, a second opinion or more information.