What is atrial septal defect?

An atrial septal defect (ASD) is a hole in the wall that separates the two upper chambers of the heart. It’s a condition that a baby is born with (congenital). The hole can range in size from small to large, and some smaller ASDs may close on their own over time.


Symptoms on an ASD include:

  • difficulty breathing
  • frequent respiratory infections
  • shortness of breath


Your child’s doctor may suspect an atrial septal defect if he or she hears an abnormal heart sound or heart murmur when listening to your baby’s heart. Your doctor may also order other tests, including:

  • echocardiogram
  • chest x-ray
  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)


Children that have small or medium-sized defects may not have any symptoms and may not need treatment. If your child has symptoms or a larger defect, treatment options may include medication, a procedure to patch the hole or surgery.

Learn more about Pediatric Cardiology services at Boston Children’s Health Physicians.

Our second opinions bring peace of mind

Getting a second opinion from one of our clinicians will give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing your child’s health is in expert hands. Simply call 844-463-2247 to make an appointment with one of our specialists.