It’s a congenital heart defect many people have their whole life and don’t even know it. It’s called an atrial septal defect (ASD), a hole between the upper chambers of the heart. In adults, it is often asymptomatic left untreated but it can causeproblems including pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the lungs), congestive heart failure (weakening of the heart muscle), atrial arrhythmias (abnormal rhythm or beating of the heart) and an increased stroke risk.
In the past, patients needing treatment for ASD have had to travel to Little Rock for treatment in Arkansas. In a procedure on November 16th, Mercy Heart and Vascular Center cardiologist Dr. Amr El-Shafei , became the first in Northwest Arkansas to repair an ASD using a procedure called an Amplatzer closure.
“We are always striving to make this a center of excellence,” says Dr. El-Shafei, “The more procedures we can offer here, the greater benefit to our patients. It is often hard to travel for medical care and this will allow patients to stay close to home for treatment.”
HOW IT WORKS
The Amplatzer closure is a non-surgical procedure that is done in the cardiac catheterization lab. A septal occluder, a button like device, is delivered to the correct place in the heart through a catheter, a small plastic tube used by a cardiologist to access the heart. The physician then places the occluder using x-ray and echocardiography. When it is in position, the cardiologist then deploys the occluder to expand each disc on either side of the defect, closing off the hole. The procedure takes about 25 minutes and generally requires a one-night hospital stay followed by checkups at one week and one month.
Diagnosis of an ASD can generally be made with an echocardiogram. The cardiologist can then advise the patient of what kind of treatment may be needed.