Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) Repair

Fixing a Hole in the Heart Without Surgery

An atrial septal defect (ASD) is an opening or hole in the atrial septum, a wall of tissue that separates the two upper chambers of the heart.

Although ASDs occur at birth, they commonly remain undetected until adulthood. A small opening may never cause a problem and may be found during an unrelated heart procedure or examination. Larger holes can lead to damage to the heart and lungs. An untreated ASD may lead to symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, decreased ability to exercise, irregular heartbeats, strokes, or fainting.

The most common type of ASD can typically be closed using a nonsurgical procedure. A specially trained physician inserts a tube called a catheter into a vein near the groin. A specially designed ASD closure device is advanced into the heart through the tube and placed in the defect to seal it closed. Tissue gradually grows over the device to further seal the ASD.

Is Catheter Repair of ASD Right for You?

If left untreated, ASDs in adults can lead to increased risk of having a stroke, heart failure, or pulmonary hypertension (a disease that causes increased pressure and irreparable damage to the heart and lungs). 

In the past, closing an ASD required open-heart surgery. Now, catheter repair is the most frequent treatment for the most common type of ASD. This offers patients less pain and a shorter recovery. More rare or complex types of ASDs may still require surgery.

After taking a thorough history of your symptoms and conducting an evaluation with diagnostic imaging tests, your doctor will determine if an ASD repair is necessary and whether a repair via catheter or surgery is right for you.

Why Choose University of Iowa for Your Heart Care

It’s important to have a medical team who can detect and thoroughly evaluate an ASD correctly. You also want to select a center that can offer you experienced physicians, surgeons, and staff, as well as the broadest range of treatment options.

The University of Iowa Heart and Vascular Center has a highly skilled team of board-certified cardiologists and cardiac surgeons with specialized training in repairing ASDs. We tailor treatment to your individual needs, offering both catheter-based and surgical options for our patients who require ASD repair. 

People come from across Iowa and the Midwest to receive care for the most complex atrial septal defect problems. Our patients benefit from our experience and our excellent outcomes.

Experience does matter.

Since our first ASD catheter repair procedure more than 20 years ago, we have evaluated and treated hundreds of ASD patients.

Greater experience translates to better outcomes.

The experience we’ve gained from our high volume of ASD procedures has helped us to achieve successful outcomes that lead to improved heart function for our patients.

Our team includes a wide range of specialists.

Our ASD program offers the expertise of:

  • Interventional cardiologists with specific structural heart disease training and experience
  • Cardiac surgeons
  • Specialists in cardiac ultrasound, MRI, and CT scans 

All of our specialists are University of Iowa physician faculty.

Our patient care benefits directly from access to the latest medical procedures and technology, as well as from our participation in cutting-edge national and international research. Our doctors are among the first in their field to access the newest technologies and adapt to ever-evolving top standards of care.