Patent ductus arteriosus is a birth defect that causes abnormal blood flow in the heart.
Before birth, a baby’s blood does not need to go through the lungs to pick up oxygen because the baby gets oxygen-rich blood from the mother. A blood vessel called the ductus arteriosus lets blood go around the baby’s lungs before birth. At birth, when the baby’s lungs fill with air, this blood vessel is no longer needed, and normally it closes soon after birth. When it does not close it is called a patent ductus arteriosus, or PDA. In a child with PDA, some of the blood that should go to the rest of the body through the aorta goes back to the lungs instead.
The exact cause of this birth defect is not known.
This problem is common in premature infants, especially if their lungs are not mature. It is rare in full-term babies. Other risks for PDA include:
Babies who have a small opening often have no symptoms, but PDA causes a whooshing sound, called a murmur, as blood moves through the heart. Healthcare providers can hear the murmur with a stethoscope
If the PDA is large, a baby may not gain weight easily. The baby may get short of breath and sweat when crying or playing. An older child with PDA may not be able to exercise as much as normal and may have lung infections often. A PDA can also increase the risk of an infection in the heart called endocarditis.
Your healthcare provider will ask about your child's symptoms and medical history and examine your child.
Tests may include:
A PDA may close by itself and not need treatment. In premature babies, medicine can be used to help the PDA close.
If the PDA is large or does not close by itself, your baby will need surgery. Your baby may need to take medicines until he is strong enough to have surgery. Two types of surgery may be done to close the defect:
Follow your child’s healthcare provider's instructions. Ask your provider:
Make sure you know when your child should come back for a checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.