How is VSD diagnosed?

Ventricular septal defects frequently are diagnosed at birth or within a few days from birth because the doctor can hear the distinctive murmur. Older children or adults with an undetected VSD may experience shortness of breath with exercise or heart rhythm problems that send them to a doctor. Diagnosis may include:

  • Chest x-ray
  • Electrocardiogram to evaluate the heart’s electrical system
  • Transthoracic Echocardiogram with Doppler imaging: Ultrasound images are obtained to show the size and function of the heart’s chambers, assess the condition of the heart valves and measure the velocity of blood flow across the VSD
  • Coronary angiography in patients at risk of coronary artery disease or in patients over age 40 if a surgical repair is planned.
  • MRI to detect other associated cardiac abnormalities

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/18/2019.



  • Darst JR, Collins KK, Miyamoto SDCardiovascular Diseases. In: Hay WW, Jr., Levin MJ, Deterding RR, Abzug MJ. eds. CURRENT Diagnosis & Treatment: Pediatrics, 22e. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2013.
  • American Heart Association. About Congenital Heart Defects Accessed 3/12/2015.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Facts about Congenital Heart Defects Accessed 3/12/2015.
  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. What are Congenital Heart Defects? Accessed 3/12/2015.
  • Hirsh JC, Devaney EJ, Ohye RG, Bove EL. Chapter 19B. The Heart: II. Congenital Heart Disease. In: Doherty GM. eds. CURRENT Diagnosis & Treatment: Surgery, 13e. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2010.

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