| Risk Factors
An atrioventricular (AV) canal defect is a rare heart defect. There is a large hole in the center of the heart that connects all 4 chambers.
The heart is made up of 2 upper chambers and 2 lower chambers. Usually, blood flows from the upper to lower chamber on the right side of the heart to the lungs. The blood picks up oxygen in the lungs and passes back into the upper chamber of the left side of the heart. It then passes to the lower chamber of the heart and out to the body.
The AV canal defect causes blood in the different chambers to mix. This means that some of the blood that is sent out to the body has not passed the lungs to pick up oxygen. The body does not get enough oxygen.
Heart Chambers and Valves
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
Blood Flow Through the Heart
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
AV canal defect is a congenital defect. This means that the baby is born with it. It is not known exactly why some babies’ hearts develop abnormally.
Factors that increase the risk of congenital heart defects include:
- Family history of congenital heart defect
Certain chromosomal disorders such as
Previous pregnancy with fetal heart abnormalities or
Conditions during pregnancy, such as:
- Being infected with a virus
- Having poorly controlled diabetes
- Drinking alcohol
- Taking certain medications
Symptoms may include:
- Fast breathing
- Poor feeding
- Slow growth
- Bluish skin color
- Lowered alertness
- Swelling of the legs, ankles, and feet
- Fast heart beat
- Sudden weight gain from retained fluid
This condition can lead to
heart failure. If your child has any of these symptoms, get emergency medical care right away.
You will be asked about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Images may be taken of your child's heart. This can be done with:
Talk with the doctor about the best treatment plan for your child. Treatment options include:
Surgery is usually recommended to correct the defect. The goal of surgery is to close the hole with a patch.
After surgery, your child will need to have regular visits with a heart doctor. The doctor may recommend that your child:
- Make lifestyle changes, including limiting certain activities.
- Take medications to treat symptoms after surgery.
- Take antibiotics before medical or dental procedures to prevent infections.
Since the cause is not clear, AV canal defects usually cannot be prevented. Prenatal care can decrease the risk of some congenital defects.
Atrioventricular canal defect. American Heart Association website. Available at:
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/CongenitalHeartDefects/AboutCongenitalHeartDefects/Complete-Atrioventricular-Canal-defect-CAVC_UCM_307023_Article.jsp. Updated November 19, 2015. Accessed December 21, 2015.
Atrioventricular canal defect. Boston Children's Hospital website. Available at:
http://www.childrenshospital.org/az/Site521/mainpageS521P0.html. Updated 2010. Accessed December 21, 2015.
Congenital ventricular septal defect (VSD) in children and adults. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:
http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116076/Congenital-ventricular-septal-defect-VSD-in-children-and-adults. Updated January 25, 2016. Accessed September 29, 2016.
Last reviewed December 2015 by Kari Kassir, MD
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © EBSCO Information Services. All rights reserved.