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Pathophysiology and clinical features of isolated ventricular septal defects in infants and children

David R Fulton, MD
Susan Saleeb, MD
Section Editor
John K Triedman, MD
Deputy Editor
Carrie Armsby, MD, MPH


Ventricular septal defect (VSD) is one of the most common congenital heart lesions (second only to bicuspid aortic valve). It occurs in almost 50 percent of all patients with congenital heart disease (CHD), with a reported prevalence of 4 per 1000 live births. (See "Identifying newborns with critical congenital heart disease", section on 'Epidemiology'.)

The pathophysiology, natural history, clinical manifestations, and evaluation of isolated VSDs in children will be presented here. The echocardiographic evaluation and management are discussed separately. (See "Echocardiographic evaluation of ventricular septal defects" and "Management of isolated ventricular septal defects in infants and children".)


Overview — There are three main anatomic components of the interventricular septum (figure 1 and figure 2) [1]. VSDs may occur at various locations in any of the three components.

Component 1 – The septum of the atrioventricular (AV) canal

Component 2 – The muscular septum

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Sep 30, 2016.
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