Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Surgery is necessary to fix both complete and partial atrioventricular canal defects. During the procedure, the hole in the septum is closed using one or two patches. The patches remain in the heart permanently, becoming part of the septum as the heart's lining grows over it. The surgeon also separates the one large heart valve between the upper and lower chambers into two separate valves.

For a partial atrioventricular canal defect, the surgery also involves repair of the mitral valve so it will close tightly. If repair isn't possible, the valve may need to be replaced instead.

If your baby has complete atrioventricular canal defect, the surgery also includes separation of the single valve into two valves, one on the left side and one on the right side of the repaired septum. If reconstruction of the single valve into two valves isn't possible, heart valve replacement may be necessary.

After surgery

If the atrioventricular canal defect has been successfully repaired with surgery, your child will likely lead a normal life, often with no activity restrictions.

However, your child will need lifelong follow-up care with a heart doctor (cardiologist) who specializes in congenital heart disease. The recommendation for follow-up is usually once a year, unless you have lingering problems, such as a leaky heart valve. In that case, follow-up will be more frequent.

Your child may also need to take preventive antibiotics before certain dental procedures and other surgical procedures if he or she is at risk of severe complications of endocarditis, a bacterial infection of the lining of the heart. Typically, this is when your child has some remaining defects after surgery, has received an artificial valve or has had repair with artificial (prosthetic) material.

Many people who have corrective surgery for atrioventricular canal defect don't need additional surgery. However, some complications, such as heart valve leaks, may require treatment.


When an atrioventricular canal defect has been surgically corrected before any permanent lung damage has occurred, women can generally expect to have normal pregnancies. Pregnancy is not recommended, however, if serious heart or lung damage occurred before surgery. An evaluation by a cardiologist is advised before women with repaired or unrepaired atrioventricular canal defect attempt pregnancy.

Sept. 12, 2012