Atrial Septal Defects | Treatments | MedStar Health

Treatment options for holes in the heart

Small holes between the upper chambers of the heart may be categorized as an atrial septal defect (ASD) or patent foramen ovale (PFO). An ASD is a congenital heart defect, a condition that you are born with. PFOs can occur only after birth when the foramen ovale fails to close.

Our adult congenital heart program is one of the few programs in the nation that cares for the complex needs of adult congenital heart patients. Our physicians have specialized training in managing these unique conditions and anticipating possible future complications.

What to expect from treatment of ASD and PFO

Treatment for ASD and PFO will vary based on your symptoms and the severity of the condition.

Treatments may include:

  • A closure device: Implants to block the hole can be placed using catheters

  • Medications: Your doctor may recommend medications to treat symptoms such as migraines or high blood pressure

  • Surgical closure: Open surgery may be performed to close the hole using sutures or a tissue patch

Your doctor may recommend treatment for symptoms or if you’re at risk for developing complications such as arrhythmia, heart failure, or stroke.


Aortic valve disease

Aortic valve disease is a type of heart valve disease that occurs when the valve between your aorta (the largest blood vessel) and the left ventricle (the heart’s main pumping chamber) doesn’t work as it should.

Atrial septal defect (ASD)

An atrial septal defect (ASD) is a hole in the wall that separates the top two chambers of the heart (atria), allowing blood to leak between the chambers.

Patent foramen ovale (PFO)

Patent foramen ovale is a congenital heart condition in which the naturally occurring opening between the heart’s upper chambers does not close after birth.

Pulmonary valve disease

Pulmonary valve disease includes several conditions that affect the pulmonary valve, through which blood passes as it travels from the heart to the lungs.

Tricuspid valve disease

Tricuspid valve disease refers to several diseases of the heart’s tricuspid valve, through which blood passes as it travels from the heart’s right atrium to the right ventricle.


Cardiac catheterization

Cardiac catheterization is a minimally invasive way to diagnose and treat a variety of heart and vascular conditions by guiding thin, flexible tubes called catheters through blood vessels to problem areas.


An echocardiogram uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of your heart. 

Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE)

Transesophageal echocardiogram allows us to take very detailed images of your heart structure from a probe in your esophagus.

Our locations

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MedStar Union Memorial Hospital

201 E. University Pkwy.
Baltimore, MD 21218

MedStar Washington Hospital Center

110 Irving St. NW
Washington, DC 20010

Additional information

Adult congenital heart center

When you’re born with a heart problem, you may need complex care throughout your life. Our experts tailor this specialized care to your unique needs.

Ask MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute

Have general questions for our heart and vascular program? Email us at If you have clinically-specific questions, please contact your physician’s office.