, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 338-343
Date: 14 Oct 2004

Morphogenetic Differences of Secundum Atrial Septal Defects

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It is generally considered that the development of secundum atrial septal defect (ASDII) or oval fossa defect is the result of excessive resorption of the embryological atrial septum primum, but this does not seem to explain all defects. We investigated 58 postmortem hearts with an ASDII and 22 normal hearts from patients ranging in age from 1 day to 49 years. The different structures of the oval fossa were examined. In 86% of the specimens, the defects were the result of a malformation of the valvula foraminis ovalis or embryological atrial septum primum, and in 14% an absent superior limbus (septum secundum) was the cause of the interatrial communication. The “septum primum” ASDs were divided into four subgroups based on the degree of deficiency of the septum primum and position of the ostium secundum within the septum primum. We conclude that the morphogenesis of ASDII is variable and both septum primum and septum secundum defects occur, which may be relevant in view of genetic studies that may lead to further differentiation of patients with and without genetically determined ASDIIs.