The ventricular septum, also known as the interventricular septum, functions as a wall between the two lower chambers of the heart. This wall also helps the lower left ventricle or chamber to pump blood.
A defect that occurs in this area is called a ventricular septal defect, a congenital heart defect or a hole in the heart. Although a small hole can close up on its own, larger holes can cause problems such as rapid heartbeat, an enlarged liver, wheezing, rapid breathing and heart failure. The heart works by pumping blood through the right to the left side of the heart and then to the body; however, a hole between the two lower chambers enables blood to pass back to the right side of the heart. Instead of this blood delivering oxygen to the body, it goes back to the lungs. This extra work causes the heart to labor harder and can result in more heart problems.
Doctors repair large holes surgically either through open-heart surgery or attaching a mesh device by threading it through a catheter. The latter procedure avoids the risk of opening up the chest. Those with small holes don't require surgery, but they often use medications to increase the strength of the heart, help the heart to beat regularly and manage the fluid circulation.