Complete atrioventricular canal

Calabrò, Raffaele; Limongelli, Giuseppe
January 2006
Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases;2006, Vol. 1, p8
Academic Journal
Complete atrioventricular canal (CAVC), also referred to as complete atrioventricular septal defect, is characterised by an ostium primum atrial septal defect, a common atrioventricular valve and a variable deficiency of the ventricular septum inflow. CAVC is an uncommon congenital heart disease, accounting for about 3% of cardiac malformations. Atrioventricular canal occurs in two out of every 10,000 live births. Both sexes are equally affected and a striking association with Down syndrome was found. Depending on the morphology of the superior leaflet of the common atrioventricular valve, 3 types of CAVC have been delineated (type A, B and C, according to Rastelli's classification). CAVC results in a significant interatrial and interventricular systemic-topulmonary shunt, thus inducing right ventricular pressure and volume overload and pulmonary hypertension. It becomes symptomatic in infancy due to congestive heart failure and failure to thrive. Diagnosis of CAVC might be suspected from electrocardiographic and chest X-ray findings. Echocardiography confirms it and gives anatomical details. Over time, pulmonary hypertension becomes irreversible, thus precluding the surgical therapy. This is the reason why cardiac catheterisation is not mandatory in infants (less than 6 months) but is indicated in older patients if irreversible pulmonary hypertension is suspected. Medical treatment (digitalis, diuretics, vasodilators) plays a role only as a bridge toward surgery, usually performed between the 3rd and 6th month of life.


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