Surgical management of the conal (supracristal) ventricular septal defect differs significantly from the management of the perimembranous (infracristal) ventricular septal defect. The absence of a portion of the conal septum can lead to prolapse of the right cusp of the aortic valve, which predisposes these patients to aortic insufficiency. Between January 1980 and December 1989, 36 children with conal ventricular septal defect underwent intracardiac repair. Diagnosis was by echocardiography, cardiac catheterization, and intraoperative exploration. Preoperative evaluation showed that 26 patients (72%) had aortic valve prolapse and 16 (44%) had aortic insufficiency. Pulmonary-to-systemic flow ratios ranged from 1:1 to 3.5:1 (mean 2.0:1.0). Ten patients (27%) were believed to have clinical congestive heart failure. Age at the time of operation ranged from 2 weeks to 18 years (mean 5.5 years). Operative exposure was through the pulmonary artery (26), aorta (4), right ventricle (3), or right atrium (3). Simultaneous aortic valve suspension for aortic insufficiency was performed in four patients. Operative survival was 100%. Follow-up is complete in all patients and ranges from 0.5 to 9 years (mean 4.3 years). All patients are in normal sinus rhythm. No residual ventricular septal defects have been identified. Twenty-three of 36 patients (64%) have no evidence of aortic insufficiency; 12 of 36 (33%) have trivial or mild aortic insufficiency. One patient with initial severe aortic insufficiency underwent repeat aortic valvuloplasty 3 years after ventricular septal defect closure and aortic valve suspension. No patients have required aortic valve replacement. Surgical management of the conal ventricular septal defect differs from that of the perimembranous ventricular septal defect in two critical aspects. The operative approach should be through the pulmonary artery. This allows the best exposure of the remaining conal septum and the pulmonary and aortic valve leaflets, facilitating closure of the defect without injury to the valves or conduction system. Conal ventricular septal defects should undergo early closure, regardless of shunt volume, to prevent progressive aortic valve prolapse and aortic insufficiency.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine