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Atrioventricular Canal Defect

Atrioventricular Canal Defect Causes

Atrioventricular canal defect is a congenital condition present at birth. While its exact cause is currently unknown, atrioventricular canal defect is suspected to result from some fetal growth factors affecting the fetus' normal heart development. Down syndrome, for example, is a risk factor of an infant being born with the atrioventricular canal defect.

Atrioventricular Canal Defect Definition

Atrioventricular canal defect is a condition that pertains to a number of congenital heart abnormalities, including the presence of a hole between the heart's chambers as well as valve anomalies involving blood flow regulation.

Atrioventricular Canal Defect Diagnosis

Atrioventricular canal defect is diagnosed based on clinical manifestations, which are distinctly noticeable in the first few weeks of life. An echocardiogram may be required to confirm the defect. In some cases, a cardiac catheterization may be performed to allow physicians to gauge the pressure in the heart's chambers and blood vessels.

Atrioventricular Canal Defect Symptoms and Signs

Atrioventricular canal defect often manifests with dyspnea (or breathing difficulty), appetite loss, poor weight gain, and cyanosis or bluish discoloration in the skin and lips. Congestive heart failure symptoms may also appear, including: weakness; fatigue; cough and wheezing; edema in the legs, ankles, feet, and abdomen; high fluid retention leading to sudden weight gain; lethargy or decreased alertness; and irregular heartbeat. Complete atrioventricular canal defect usually presents with symptoms in the first few weeks of life; whereas partial atrioventricular canal defect may not manifest until the second or third decade of life.

Atrioventricular Canal Defect Treatment

In most cases, atrioventricular canal defect needs to be surgically treated by closing a hole in the septum with permanent patches. The mitral valve may need to be repaired or replaced surgically. In addition, surgery may involve the separation of single valves into two valves. Following surgical intervention, affected patients will require antibiotics, medications to target symptoms, plus life-long medical care by a specialist.

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