Share this page

Health Library

Atrioventricular Canal Defect—Child(AV Canal Defect—Child; Complete AV Canal—Child; Complete Common AV Canal—Child; Endocardial Cushion Defect—Child)
Definition

An atrioventricular (AV) canal defect is a rare heart defect. There is a large hole in the center of the heart that connects all four chambers.

The heart is made up of two upper chambers and two 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

heart anatomy

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Blood Flow Through the Heart


Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

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.

Risk Factors

Factors that increase the risk of congenital heart defects include:

  • Family history of congenital heart defect
  • Certain chromosomal disorders such as Down syndrome
  • Previous pregnancy with fetal heart abnormalities or miscarriage
  • Conditions during pregnancy, such as:
    • Being infected with a virus
    • Having poorly controlled diabetes
    • Drinking alcohol
    • Taking certain medicines
Symptoms

Symptoms may include:

  • Fast breathing
  • Poor feeding
  • Slow growth
  • Bluish skin color
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Lowered alertness
  • Wheezing
  • Swelling of the legs, ankles, and feet
  • Sweating
  • 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 medical care right away.

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Imaging tests may be done to view your heart's structures:

Treatment

Talk with the doctor about the best treatment plan for your child. Treatment options include:

Surgery

Surgery is usually recommended to correct the defect. The goal of surgery is to close the hole with a patch.

Lifelong Monitoring

After surgery, your child will need to have regular visits with a heart doctor. The doctor may recommend that your child:

  • Makes lifestyle changes, including limiting certain activities.
  • Takes medications to treat symptoms after surgery.
  • Takes antibiotics before medical or dental procedures to prevent infections.
Prevention

Since the cause is not clear, AV canal defects usually cannot be prevented. Prenatal care can decrease the risk of some congenital defects.

RESOURCES:

American Family Physician
http://www.aafp.org/

American Heart Association
http://www.americanheart.org/

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Cardiovascular Society
http://www.ccs.ca/

Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
http://ww2.heartandstroke.ca/

References:

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 . Accessed June 21, 2013.

Atrioventricular canal defect. Boston Children's Hospital website. Available at: http://www.childrenshospital.org/az/Site521/mainpageS521P0.html . Accessed June 21, 2013.

Ventricular septal defect (VSD). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated June 14, 2012. Accessed June 21, 2013.



Last reviewed June 2013 by Michael Woods, MD

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.

Baptist Flame

Health Library

Find A Doctor

Services

Locations

Baptist Medical Clinic

Patients & Visitors

Learn

Contact Us

Physician Tools

Careers at Baptist

Employee Links

Online Services

At Baptist Health Systems

At Baptist Medical Center

close ×