Avoiding the Need for Open Heart Surgery

Holes in the heart are often present at birth, but can also occur following heart surgery, heart attack, or infection. There are a number of different types of holes in the heart, such as: 

  • Atrial septal defects (ASD)
  • Patent foramen ovale (PFO)
  • Ventricular septal defect (VSD)
  • Paravalvular leak

Our Structural Heart Disease Team can fix all types of heart holes with minimally invasive procedures that avoid the need for open heart surgery.

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Atrial Septal Defect (ASD)

An Atrial Septal Defect is a rare heart defect that occurs in the wall between the two upper chambers of the heart. Extra blood is pushed from the left side of the heart to the right side through the hole in the upper chambers. Depending on the size of the hole, the right side can get too much blood flow, become enlarged, overworked, and eventually weaken or fail.

ASD is congenital (present at birth) and occurs when walls don’t properly develop when the baby is in the womb. Some small ASDs close spontaneously during infancy or early childhood, while larger ASDs can persist into adulthood and cause serious problems. 

Larger ASDs can cause the right side of the heart to fail, arrhythmias, elevated blood pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension), and a shorter lifespan. An ASD can also increase your stroke risk.

If your ASD hole is too large, you may experience:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling of the legs, feet, or abdomen
  • Palpitations (fluttering or extra heartbeats)

Common ASD Questions

Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO)

A patent foramen ovale (PFO) is a hole or a tunnel in your heart that didn't close properly after birth. Everyone has a PFO when they are developing in the womb, but it closes for most people. At birth, your lungs begin to function, and the pressures inside your heart change. This closes the hole (foramen ovale) and blood follows through normal circulatory route. PFOs are very common (25% of people have them), but most do not know it. If you have a PFO, it will remain open for life.

Common PFO Questions

Treatment Options


If the hole in your heart is small enough, you may not need treatment. If treatment is not required, then it may warrant additional monitoring to ensure it does not pose a risk to your health.

Percutaneous Closure

Percutaneous closure is a minimally invasive heart procedure that uses a small tube, inserted into the vein in your leg, to pass through the hole between the two chambers of the heart. The tube is used to deliver a closure device that seals the hole. The majority of holes can be closed using this method, but the size and location of your hole will determine if this treatment option is right for you.

Surgical Closure

If your hole cannot be closed percutaneously, then open-heart surgery can be performed. This requires general anesthesia and the use of a heart-lung machine. An incision will be made into your chest and a patch will be used to close your hole. The experienced Cardiac Surgery team at Rochester Regional Health will perform this surgical closure.

What to Expect with a Percutaneous Closure

One of our primary goals is to make every step of your heart hole closure process as efficient and compassionate as possible. We want you to feel comfortable during your appointments and will make every effort to answer questions throughout the process.

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Schedule a Consultation Today

Call (585) 442-5320 to meet with a heart disease specialist at the Rochester Regional Health Sands-Constellation Heart Institute.
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