How is an atrioventricular canal defect diagnosed?
A healthcare provider can often diagnose an atrioventricular canal defect before birth with a few tests:
- Prenatal ultrasound shows moving pictures of the fetus in the uterus, including its heart. A large septal defect may be visible on an ultrasound.
- A fetal echocardiogram creates images of the heart that are more detailed than ultrasound. It can give a healthcare provider important information about the structure of the heart and how well it’s pumping blood.
After birth, a healthcare provider may use a stethoscope to listen to your baby’s heartbeat. An abnormal “whooshing” sound may indicate that blood is flowing through a hole in the septum. Other tests after birth might include:
- Chest X-rays to show the size and shape of your baby’s heart.
- Electrocardiogram (EKG) to track the electrical activity of your baby’s heart.
In some cases, a baby may have a small septal defect that doesn’t cause symptoms right after birth. It might be several years before a healthcare provider detects the condition.