An Atrial Septal Defect, or ASD, is an abnormal hole in the wall of the upper chambers of the heart. This hole means the wall between the right and left upper chambers does not close completely.

Fetuses have an opening (called a foramen ovale) between the upper chambers of the heart that closes naturally soon after birth. If this fails to happen, the result is an open (patent) foramen ovale, or PFO. For either an ASD or a PFO, a cardiac cath lab procedure can be used to close the hole.

How it's done:

  • A catheter guides a flexible closure device through a blood vessel into the heart.
  • Once the device is correctly positioned, it can expand to plug the hole. (Generally speaking, the device works a bit like an umbrella. When collapsed, it is small enough to travel inside your blood vessel. When opened, it covers a larger area.)
  • When the catheter is withdrawn, this plugging device remains behind to close the hole in the heart. Eventually the device becomes covered with the body's own tissues.
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