Surgery is needed to repair complete and partial atrioventricular canal defects. The procedure involves closing the hole in the wall (septum) between the heart chambers with one or two patches. The patches stay in the heart permanently, becoming part of the septum as the heart's lining grows over them.
For a partial atrioventricular canal defect, surgery also involves repair of the mitral valve, so it will close tightly. If repair isn't possible, the valve might need to be replaced.
For a complete atrioventricular canal defect, surgery also includes separation of the large single valve that separates the upper and lower chambers of the heart into two valves, on both the left and right sides of the repaired septum. If separating the single valve isn't possible, heart valve replacement of both the tricuspid and mitral valves might be needed.
If the heart defect is repaired successfully, your child will likely lead a normal life, often with no activity restrictions.
However, you or your child will need lifelong follow-up care with a cardiologist trained in congenital heart disease. Your cardiologist will likely recommend a follow-up exam once a year or more frequently if problems, such as a leaky heart valve, remain. Adults whose congenital heart defects were treated as children may need care from a cardiologist trained in adult congenital heart disease (adult congenital cardiologist) throughout life. Special attention and care may be needed around the time of procedures, such as an operation which does not involve the heart.
You or your child might also need to take preventive antibiotics before certain dental and other surgical procedures if he or she:
- Has remaining heart defects after surgery
- Received an artificial heart valve
- Received artificial (prosthetic) material during heart repair
The antibiotics are used to prevent a bacterial infection of the lining of the heart (endocarditis).
Many people who have corrective surgery for atrioventricular canal defect don't need additional surgery. However, some complications, such as heart valve leaks, may require treatment.
Women who had an atrioventricular canal defect that was surgically corrected before any permanent lung damage occurred can generally expect to have normal pregnancies. However, pregnancy isn't recommended if serious heart or lung damage occurred before surgery.
Evaluation by a cardiologist trained in congenital heart disease (adult congenital cardiologist) is recommended for women with repaired or unrepaired atrioventricular canal defect before they attempt pregnancy.