Center for Heart & Vascular Health

Minimally Invasive Repair of Heart Defects

If your doctor has told you that you have a hole in your heart and you need to get it repaired, the structural heart team at Christiana Care offers you less invasive treatment options.

What is Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO)?


The foramen ovale is a small opening between the left and right chambers of the heart. Everyone is born with this opening; its purpose is to allow blood flow into the heart of a developing fetus. Typically, this hole closes a few months after birth, but for about 25 percent of the population, it remains open; this is called a patent foramen ovale (PFO). While some people with PFOs live healthy lives, others are at a greater risk for serious health problems, such as heart attack and stroke.

What is a Septal Defect?

A septal defect is a hole located in an inner wall of your heart, called the septum, which separates the left and right side of the heart.

An atrial septal defect (ASD) is a hole within the muscular wall that separates the heart’s two upper chambers. Normally, the right side of your heart will pump low-oxygenated blood to the lungs; the left side of the heart then pumps the oxygen-rich blood out to the body. When an ASD is present, the blood from both sides can mix and as a result, some oxygen-rich blood is pumped to the lungs instead of out to the body. Some people with ASDs are at a greater risk for serious health problems, such as stroke, pulmonary hypertension, abnormal heart rhythms and heart failure.

A ventricular septal defect (VSD) is a hole within the muscular wall that separates the heart’s two lower chambers, called ventricles. Many VSDs will close within the first year of life and do not require treatment. If a VSD remains open into adulthood, it carries a higher risk of heart valve problems, heart failure or abnormal heart rhythms.

Minimally Invasive Closure of Holes in the Heart

Our structural heart interventional cardiologists may offer you the option of a minimally invasive repair for the hole in your heart. The procedure is done percutaneously (through the skin) by inserting a catheter through the leg and guiding it up to the heart. They then implant a special disk to close the hole. When the device is released from the catheter, it seals the hole. After you go home, your heart team will continue to monitor you to make sure your recovery goes well.

Christiana Care Structural Heart Program
Christiana Hospital
4755 Ogletown-Stanton Road, Newark, DE 19718 directions
302-733-1507
structuralheartcoordinators@christianacare.org