Atrioventricular Canal Defect—Child
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Atrioventricular Canal Defect—Child

(AV Canal Defect—Child; Complete AV Canal—Child; Complete Common AV Canal—Child; Endocardial Cushion Defect—Child)

En Español (Spanish Version)

Definition

The heart is made up of four different chambers, two atria and two ventricles. Usually blood flows from the right atrium to the right ventricle and then to the lungs. Here the blood receives oxygen. The oxygenated blood comes back to the left atrium and moves down to the left ventricle, where it is pumped out to the body.

Heart Chambers and Valves

heart anatomy

© 2011 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Blood Flow Through the Heart

© 2011 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

An atrioventricular (AV) canal defect is a rare heart defect. There is a large hole in the center of the heart that connects all four chambers. This allows blood to mix from all the chambers.

Instead of valves that separate the atria from the ventricles, one large valve forms. Other abnormalities may also be present.

Causes

AV canal defect is a congenital defect. This means that the baby is born with it. It is not known exactly why some babies’ hearts develop abnormally.

Risk Factors

Risk factors for congenital heart defects include:

  • Family history of congenital heart defect
  • The child has certain chromosomal disorders
  • Previous pregnancy with fetal heart abnormalities or miscarriage
  • Conditions during pregnancy, such as:
    • Being infected with a virus
    • Having poorly controlled diabetes
    • Drinking alcohol
    • Taking certain medicines

Symptoms

Symptoms may include:

  • Fast breathing
  • Poor feeding
  • Slow growth
  • Bluish skin color
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Lowered alertness
  • Wheezing
  • Swelling of the legs, ankles, and feet
  • Sweating
  • Fast heart beat
  • Sudden weight gain from retained fluid

This condition can lead to heart failure . If your child has any of these symptoms, get medical care right away.

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include:

  • Echocardiogram —an imaging test that uses sound waves to look at the size, shape, and motion of the heart
  • Cardiac catheterization —a test that uses a catheter (tube) and x-ray machine to assess the heart and its blood supply

Treatment

Talk with the doctor about the best treatment plan for your child. Treatment options include:

Surgery

Surgery is usually recommended to correct the defect. The goal of surgery is to close the hole with a patch. The large valve is separated into two valves. If the valve cannot be repaired, heart valve replacement surgery may need to be done.

Lifelong Monitoring

After surgery, your child will need to have regular visits with a heart doctor. The doctor may recommend that your child:

  • Makes lifestyle changes, including limiting certain activities
  • Takes medicines to treat symptoms after surgery
  • Takes antibiotics before medical or dental procedures

Prevention

Atrioventricular canal defects usually cannot be prevented. Getting proper prenatal care is always important.

RESOURCES:

American Family Physician
http://www.aafp.org/

American Heart Association
http://www.americanheart.org/

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Cardiovascular Society
http://www.ccs.ca/

Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
http://ww2.heartandstroke.ca/splash/

References:

American Heart Association. Atrioventricular canal defect. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=132 . Accessed July 14, 2010.

Mayo Clinic. Atrioventricular canal defect. Mayo Clinic website. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/atrioventricular-canal-defect/DS00745/DSECTION=risk-factors . Accessed July 7, 2010.



Last reviewed June 2011 by Kari Kassir, MD


Last updated Updated: 6/6/2011

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


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