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Patent Ductus Artery (PDA)

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Patent Ductus Artery (PDA)

What is Patent Ductus Artery (PDA)

Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) describes a preservation of the connection between the pulmonary artery and the aorta that exists in the fetus (see Figure 8). Since aortic diastolic pressure is higher than pulmonary artery systolic pressure, there is continuous flow into the pulmonary circulation, creating the characteristic continuous ("machinery") murmur, heard best just below the left clavicle. In hemodynamically insignificant lesions (>50% of cases), patients are asymptomatic. Patients with bigger shunts develop cardiac failure at an age that depends on the severity of the lesion. Eisenmenger syndrome can occur with PDA. Treatment is surgical closure of the duct; this can be carried out percutaneously.

What are the signs and symptoms of patent ductus arteriosus?

A heart murmur may be the only sign that a baby has patent ductus arteriosus (PDA). A heart murmur is an extra or unusual sound heard during the heartbeat.

Some infants may develop signs or symptoms of volume overload on the heart and excess blood flow in the lungs. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Fast breathing, working hard to breathe, or shortness of breath, or in the case of a premature infant, need for increased oxygen or ventilatory support
  • Poor feeding and poor weight gain
  • Tiring easily
  • Sweating with exertion (such as while feeding)

How is patent ductus arteriosus diagnosed?

Two painless tests are used to diagnose a PDA.

Echocardiogram. This test, which is harmless and painless, uses sound waves to create a moving picture of your baby's heart. During an echocardiogram, reflected sound waves outline the heart's structure completely. The test allows the doctor to clearly see any problem with the way the heart is formed or the way it's working. An echocardiogram is the most important test available to your baby's cardiologist to both diagnose a heart problem and follow the problem over time. In babies with PDA, the echocardiogram shows how big the ductus is and how well the heart is responding to it. When medical treatments are used to try to close a ductus in premature babies, echocardiograms are used to see how well the treatment is working.

EKG (electrocardiogram). This test records the electrical activity in the heart. In the case of a PDA, it can show:

  • Enlargement of the heart chambers
  • Other subtle changes that can suggest the presence of a PDA

How is patent ductus arteriosus treated?

The goal of treatment is to close the patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) to prevent complications and reverse the effects of increased blood volume.

Surgery for PDA may be performed when:

  • A premature or full-term infant develops health problems from the PDA and is too small to have a catheter-based procedure
  • A PDA is not successfully closed by a catheter-based procedure
  • Surgery is planned for treatment of related congenital heart defects

Surgery often is not performed until after 6 months of age in infants who do not have health problems from the PDA. Doctors sometime perform surgery on small PDAs to prevent the risk of bacterial endocarditis.

The operation is done under general anesthesia. The surgeon will:

  • Make a small cut between your child's ribs to reach the PDA
  • Close the PDA with stitches or clips

Complications of the surgery are rare and usually short term. They can include hoarseness, a paralyzed diaphragm, infection, bleeding, or fluid buildup around the lungs.

After surgery. After surgery, you will spend a few days in the hospital. Most people go home 2 days after surgery. While in the hospital, you will be given medicines to reduce pain or anxiety. The doctors and nurses at the hospital will teach you how to care at home. They will talk to you about:

  • Limits on activity while you recovers
  • Followup appointments with your doctors
  • How to give medicines at home, if needed

When you go home after surgery, you will feel fairly comfortable, although there may be some pain temporarily.

Then you will begin to eat better and gain weight quickly. Within a few weeks, you should be fully recovered and able to participate in normal activities.

Long-term complications from surgical treatment are rare. They can include narrowing of the aorta, incomplete closure of the ductus arteriosus, and reopening of the ductus arteriosus.

If you are considering patent ductus artery in China and would like to get know more information about patent ductus artery, please complete the inquiry form or email us at