Diagnosis

Ventricular septal defects (VSDs) often cause a heart murmur that your doctor can hear using a stethoscope. If your doctor hears a heart murmur or finds other signs or symptoms of a heart defect, he or she may order several tests including:

  • Echocardiogram. In this test, sound waves produce a video image of the heart. Doctors may use this test to diagnose a ventricular septal defect and determine its size, location and severity. It may also be used to see if there are any other heart problems. Echocardiography can be used on a fetus (fetal echocardiography).
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG). This test records the electrical activity of the heart through electrodes attached to the skin and helps diagnose heart defects or rhythm problems.
  • Chest X-ray. An X-ray image helps the doctor view the heart and lungs. This can help doctors see if the heart is enlarged and if the lungs have extra fluid.
  • Cardiac catheterization. In this test, a thin, flexible tube (catheter) is inserted into a blood vessel at the groin or arm and guided through the blood vessels into the heart. Through cardiac catheterization, doctors can diagnose congenital heart defects and determine the function of the heart valves and chambers.
  • Pulse oximetry. A small clip on the fingertip measures the amount of oxygen in the blood.