Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)

Also known as: PDA

What is ​Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)?

Patent ductus arteriosus is a heart condition that affects some babies soon after birth. Before birth the ductus arteriosus is the blood vessel that carries most of the body’s blood that flows to the heart, through the pulmonary artery to the aorta which in the fetus takes the blood to be oxygenated by the mother's placenta. Normally after a baby is born, the lungs fill with air, and the ductus arteriosus closes, as it is no longer needed. However, in some babies, the vessel remains open and causes abnormal blood flow between the aorta and pulmonary artery which puts a strain on the baby’s heart. This is patent ductus arteriosus.


What causes patent ductus arteriosus?

Doctors aren’t exactly sure what causes patent ductus arteriosus, and often there is no clear cause. It is more common in girls and premature babies. Certain other conditions, such as Down syndrome or other heart defects, make patent ductus arteriosus more likely, so genetic & environmental factors may play a role.


What are the symptoms of patent ductus arteriosus?

Babies with patent ductus arteriosus may be short of breath, have rapid breathing or heartbeat, get tired easily, have trouble feeding or not grow well. They may also have no symptoms.


What are patent ductus arteriosus care options?

Depending on its severity, patent ductus arteriosus can be treated with medication or with surgery that may or may not involve catheters.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 1/10/2017 3:29:42 PM

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