Ventricular Septal Defect

A ventricular septal defect is one of the most common congenital (present from birth) heart defects. It refers to one or more holes in the wall separating the right and left ventricles of the heart, the lower chambers. It may occur by itself or with other heart defects. There are several names for these holes or openings, depending on where they are located. Before babies are born, the right and left ventricles are not separate, but as the baby grows a wall forms to separate them. If the wall does not form completely, a hole remains. The hole can eventually close on its own, causing no problems, but if the hole is too large, too much blood is pumped to the lungs, causing heart failure. It also may cause oxygen-rich and oxygen-poor blood to mix, giving the baby’s skin a bluish tint. Although it is present at birth and usually is treated at that point, sometimes the condition is not diagnosed until adulthood. It is treatable, depending on its size and whether symptoms occur. The cause is not known.

The UAB Congenital Heart Disease Program offers the most advanced care for congenital (present at birth) heart disease, which often requires lifetime monitoring and care. Our multi-specialty team of pediatric and adult cardiologists, cardiovascular surgeons, cardiovascular anesthesiologists, and maternal-fetal medicine specialists have unique expertise in treating patients before birth and into adulthood.

UAB Medicine’s modern ultrasound equipment allows many heart defects to be diagnosed before a child is born. Screening exams performed at 18-20 weeks are recommended for expecting mothers or fathers known to have congenital heart disease. If a defect is discovered, our experts provide prenatal treatment and develop a plan for delivery and treatment after birth.

Thanks to advances in pediatric congenital care, the life expectancy for most patients now reaches far into adulthood. However, more than half of the people with congenital heart problems stop seeing a cardiologist once they turn 18. UAB’s Alabama Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program is designed to prevent that gap in care. As the only adult congenital heart disease program in the state and one of only a few in the country, our expertise greatly increases the chances that symptoms will be identified early. This helps ensure that less serious problems are addressed before they develop into larger, more life-threatening issues such as heart failure, arrhythmia, residual congenital heart defects, endocarditis, and stroke.


  • Marc Cribbs, MD | Care of Adults with Congenital Heart Disease
    Marc Cribbs, MD | Care of Adults with Congenital Heart Disease
  • Sarah's Heart
    Sarah’s Heart
    When Sarah Ford found out she needed heart surgery, she made the drive from her home in Dothan to Birmingham to receive treatment at UAB. The experienced surgeons, compassionate staff, and cutting-edge care at UAB made her feel secure and safe.
  • Meet the Team: Kyle Eudailey, MD
    Meet the Team: Kyle Eudailey, MD
    Dr. Eudailey specializes in adult cardiac surgery, including aortic surgery and transcatheter treatment of valve disease. He is grateful for the opportunity to help patients improve their quality of life.
  • Dr. Cribbs on Business Break
    Dr. Cribbs on Business Break

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