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Cross sectional echocardiographic assessment of the extent of the atrial septum relative to the atrioventricular junction in atrioventricular septal defect


Objective To study patients with atrioventricular septal defect to determine the pathognomonic morphological features of the lesion and the relation between the septal structures and the atrioventricular junction.

Setting Tertiary level paediatric cardiology centre.

Methods Cross sectional echocardiograms from 60 patients were reviewed using qualitative and quantitative analysis. The unifying feature was the presence of a common atrioventricular junction. The overall dimensions of the septal defect were determined and related to the plane of the common junction; the extent of both the atrial and the ventricular septal components was then measured according to the site of closure of the bridging leaflets.

Results In 48 cases, the common junction was guarded by a common valvar orifice, but in 12 cases there were separate right and left valvar orifices. Irrespective of the valvar morphology, no significant difference was found between the groups in terms of the dimensions of the atrial and ventricular septal components. In all patients, the hole permitting shunting at atrial level extended below the plane of the atrioventricular junction, with a variable position of the leading edge of the atrial septum itself.

Conclusions The atrioventricular junction is a common structure irrespective of valvar morphology. In spite of the presence of unequivocal shunting at atrial level, the atrial septum is usually a well formed structure, even extending in some below the level of the common atrioventricular junction.

  • atrioventricular canal malformation
  • endocardial cushion defects
  • level of shunting
  • morphology

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