Multiple ventricular septal defects: How and when should they be repaired?

F. Seddio, V. M. Reddy, D. B. McElhinney, W. Tworetzky, N. H. Silverman, F. L. Hanley, C. Mavroudis, F. Lacour-Gayet, T. L. Spray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Congenital heart lesions with multiple ventricular septal defects remain a surgical challenge. Traditional approaches often rely on either ventriculotomy for exposure or palliation with pulmonary artery banding. However, indications for repair versus palliation and for various approaches to surgical exposure are not clearly defined. Methods: From July 1992 to January 1998, 45 patients with multiple (≥2) ventricular septal defects (37 with associated lesions) underwent surgery. Median age was 86 days; all but 4 patients were infants. The mean number of defects was 3.7, and almost half of the patients had more than 3 defects. Apical muscular defects were present in 62% of patients. Thirty-one patients underwent primary complete repair through a right atriotomy or trans-semilunar valve approach (group 1), 8 had palliation (group 2), and 6 underwent complete repair after prior palliation elsewhere (group 3). No patient had a ventriculotomy. Results: One early death occurred in a group 1 patient. Four patients who had had palliation (50%) underwent early reoperation for pulmonary artery band revision because of failure to thrive or band removal after spontaneous closure of the defects. At follow-up (median 22 months), there was 1 death in a group 2 patient (palliation) and 1 other group 2 patient required cardiac transplantation. The only late reoperation was for removal of the pulmonary artery band and closure of multiple apical defects in a group 2 (palliation) patient. No patients who underwent repair have hemodynamically significant residual defects. Conclusions: In our experience, palliation of multiple ventricular septal defects is associated with greater morbidity than primary repair. Multiple defects can almost always be repaired adequately in early infancy without ventriculotomy, although 'Swiss-cheese' septum may be an indication for palliation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)134-140
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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