What is ventricular septal defect?

A ventricular septal defect (VSD) is a hole in the wall that separates the two lower chambers of the heart. It’s a condition that a baby is born with (congenital).


The type of symptoms a child has and the severity of the symptoms depends on the size of the defect. Many children have symptoms from infancy. They can include:

  • fatigue
  • sweating
  • rapid or heavy breathing
  • congested breathing
  • disinterest in feeding
  • poor weight gain


Your child’s doctor may suspect a ventricular 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:

  • electrocardiogram
  • echocardiogram


Small VSDs may not need any treatment. Some may close on their own as your child grows. Treatment options for larger VSDs may include medication to reduce symptoms, a procedure to patch the hole or surgery.

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

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