The Gerbode Defect

Here’s an echocardiogram of one of the most rare Congenital Heart Defects (CHDs) that exist. Look closely or you won’t see what is known as The Gerbode Defect.

The Gerbode Defect isn’t an Atrial Septal Defect, though it acts like one. It isn’t a Ventricular Septal Defect either, but it acts like one of those, too. The Gerbode Defect is a connection between the Right Atrium and the Left Ventricle. (CLICK HERE for a simple diagram.)

And again, that’s not really the problem. The defect lies in the Tricuspid Valve – there is either a small “gap” in the base of the leaflet closest to the Septum or there is a small hole in the septum just at the base of the Valve. (Here’s a diagram of the Tricuspid Valve showing the possible location of the defect.)

The Gerbode Defect is hard to find, hard to diagnose, and easy to miss. The defect is so rare that researchers at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago report that they observed six cases of Gerbode Defect over a nineteen year period. And while most of the time it is a Congenital Defect – you are born with it – Gerbode can also be an acquired defect.

Wha…? How is that possible? Endocarditis can cause the valve or valve wall to deteriorate. Here’s yet another reason to avoid Endocarditis if you are a CHD Survivor!

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