Wenwu Zhang, M.D., Ph.D, of Cardiovascular Consultants, LLP, performed the first
percutaneous closure of atrial septal defect (ASD) using a procedure similar to a cardiac
catheterization at the Willis-Knighton Heart Institute facility in Shreveport. Previously,
individuals with atrial septal defect required open-heart surgery to repair the hole in their
Dr. Zhang treated this congenital condition without open heart surgery by using a new
mesh device manufactured by AGA Medical. The closure device is delivered using a
catheter threaded into the heart through a blood vessel from a small incision in the groin.
This state-of-the-art technology closes the hole in the upper chambers of the heart (atria)
by placing a closure device through the opening and sealing it shut.
What is ASD?
An atrial septal defect, or ASD, is an abnormal communication of the upper chambers of
the heart where the wall between the right and left atria does not close completely. The
size of the defect and its exact location vary from patient to patient.
An ASD can increase the amount of blood flow to the lungs. During childhood, there
may be no symptoms, but over time the condition can lead to pulmonary hypertension or
congestive heart failure.
An ASD can close on its own but more often than not needs repairing. It is typically
repaired in children between three and five years of age. However infants, older children, and even adults may also undergo the treatment when necessary. In the past, these
patients would require open heart surgery that would include stopping the heart and using
a heart/lung machine. The percutaneous (through the vein) method of treating the ASD
used by Dr. Zhang dramatically reduces the risks and shortens the recovery period
following the procedure.