AV Canal


An atrioventricular canal defect is a heart defect that is mostly found in newborns, which occurs during the first eight weeks of pregnancy when a hole disrupts the heart’s chambers causing issues in the flow of blood. This can cause serious abnormalities and heart related issues to the child that includes:

  • Atrial septal defect, a hole that divides the two chambers of the heart, allowing the oxygen rich blood to pass through the hole to the septum and mix in the oxygen poor blood.
  • Ventricular septal defect, another opening in the interventricular septum dividing the two lower chambers and allowing the oxygen rich blood to mix with oxygen poor blood through the opening and the left and right ventricle.
  • Improper formation of valves that separate the atria and ventricular causing the mitral valve to form three cusps instead of usual two. This abnormality allows the blood to move backward into the atria instead of either in the pulmonary artery or the aorta from the ventricle. The result is leakage of tricuspid valves or mitral valve, known as insufficiency or regurgitation.

Causes and symptoms of Atrioventicular canal


The heart of the baby form right after the eight weeks of pregnancy, forming a hollow tube and become separated into atria and ventricular septal. However, the defect occurs when the separation process doesn’t complete and leave a hole in between that restrict the further development of the heart. A family with previous heart defects and children with Down syndrome are likely to develop atrioventricular canal.


The symptoms vary according to the size of the septal opening along with the age of the patient. These symptoms include

  • Fatigue and sweating
  • Pale and cool skin
  • Breathing issues
  • Increased heart rate
  • Feeling tired and not hungry
  • Poor weight gain

Treatment of AV Canal

Certain tests are needed to be done such as Chest X-ray, Electrocardiogram, Echocardiogram and cardiac catheterization. These tests help the physician to fully understand and finding the defect and making appropriate treatment. Cardiologist refers the child and prepare for physical examination after hearing the child’s heart sound and observing lung’s capability. The prescriptions differ according to the patient’s age, health condition and the severity of the defect. Surgery is also performed to fill the opening in AV canal defect by a cardiologist, which is further supported by medications such as digoxin, diuretics and ACE that helps the heart to enable proper functioning and remove excel fluid from the body. Other nutritional liquids such as breast mil and supplements are also advised to control the infection and increase the recovery process.


AV canal must be diagnosed at once and if left untreated, it can cause the following complications to the child.

  • Lund defects due to excessive passage of blood through the pulmonary artery
  • Diminishing of blood flow from the left side of the heart
  • High blood pressure
  • Cyanotic
  • Infection in Mitral and tricuspid valves
  • Bacterial endocarditis

Post operative care

The patient will need to spend few hours in ICU after the surgery and proper medication will be given to calm his/her nerves and reduce the pain. After discharging from ICU, the child will spend some days in the hospital before leaving for home.

Pain medications need to be given to the child if feels uncomfortable.

Healthy and nutritional diet followed by tolerance in outdoor activities.

Regular appointments with your cardiologist to confirm the health of the child.