The Natural and Unnatural History of Ventricular Septal Defects Presenting in Infancy: An Echocardiography-Based Review

Kelly Cox*, Claudia Algaze-Yojay, Rajesh Punn, Norman Silverman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background: Ventricular septal defect (VSD), the most common congenital heart defect, accounts for 40% of heart malformations. Despite this prevalence, there remains no consensus on the utility of echocardiography to guide modern-era treatment. In this study, we evaluated patients with isolated VSDs to test the hypothesis that echocardiographic evidence of left ventricular (LV) volume overload and type of VSD are associated with surgical intervention and to identify useful echocardiographic indicators for management of VSDs in infants and children. Methods: We reviewed 350 patients with VSDs diagnosed during the first year of life. Echocardiographic measurements were made at the time of diagnosis and at the endpoint. The VSD area was calculated using inner edge to inner edge dimensions obtained from two planes and indexed to body surface area. Aortic annulus dimension, left atrium to aortic root ratio, LV end-diastolic diameter, left atrial volume, VSD velocity-time integral, ejection fraction, and pulmonary to systemic blood flow ratio (Qp:Qs) were measured using conventional methods. Results: One hundred seventy-seven muscular (50.5%) and 162 perimembranous (46%) VSDs accounted for the vast majority of defects. Only seven (4%) muscular defects required surgical closure, while 76 (47%) perimembranous defects required surgery. Indexed VSD area, VSD to aortic valve ratio, indexed left atrium volume, LV end-diastolic diameter, VSD velocity-time integral, and Qp:Qs at diagnosis were significantly different between the surgical and nonsurgical groups. Ventricular septal defect area > 50 mm2/m2 at initial diagnosis was independently associated with risk for surgery (P = .0055). Conclusions: Indexed VSD area is an echocardiographic variable that can be easily measured at diagnosis and can provide insight into the likelihood of requiring surgical intervention regardless of the type and location of the defect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)763-770
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Society of Echocardiography
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2020


  • Echocardiography
  • Surgical closure
  • Ventricular septal defect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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