Transcatheter closure of intracardiac shunts

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Opinion statement

Intracardiac shunts, such as atrial septal defects (ASDs), patent foramen ovales (PFOs), and ventricular septal defects (VSDs), are common forms of congenital or acquired heart disease. Traditional treatment has consisted of surgical closure. Transcatheter closure using implantable devices is now an alternative approach to the treatment of these lesions. Transcatheter closure offers advantages over surgical closure: 1) it is less invasive, resulting in shorter recovery times, less hospital time, and no scarring; 2) it avoids the deleterious neurocognitive effects of cardiopulmonary bypass; 3) it avoids the proarrhythmic effects of atrial or ventricular incisions; and 4) it is potentially less costly. Device closure of secundum ASDs is the procedure of choice. Device closure of PFOs can be performed under humanitarian device exemption (HDE) guidelines, although the indications for this procedure and its effectiveness compared with medical management remain controversial. Ongoing studies are addressing these issues. Transcatheter closure of muscular VSDs is an alternative to surgical treatment, especially for apical defects or those anterior to the moderator band. The CardioSEAL device (NMT Medical, Boston, MA) has HDE status for this purpose and the Amplatzer muscular VSD device (AGA Medical Corp., Golden Valley, MN) is being reviewed by the US Food and Drug Administration for market approval. Phase 1 investigations are underway for device closure of perimembranous VSDs using the Amplatzer perimembranous VSD device (AGA Medical Corp.). Until more data are available, surgical closure of perimembranous VSDs is still the procedure of choice. Closure of postinfarct VSDs can also be accomplished using intracardiac devices; however, this remains a high-risk procedure. Early experience compares favorably with surgical closure. Transcatheter device closure of intracardiac defects is a relatively new procedure. Longterm data for these procedures are currently lacking and, therefore, recommendations regarding the use of these devices will continue to evolve with time.