Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)

What is Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)?

Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) is a heart condition in which a connection remains between the aorta and the pulmonary artery after birth. Normally, soon after a baby's birth the ductus arteriosus—an artery that provides a pathway for blood to bypass the lungs before birth—closes and converts into a ligament. In some cases, the ductus arteriosus fails to close properly and remains open, creating a persistent connection (PDA).

Signs and Symptoms of PDA

The presence of a PDA may cause an abnormal sound (murmur) when listening to the baby’s heart with a stethoscope. Additional possible signs and symptoms of PDA include:

  • Wheezing, difficulty breathing, rapid breathing, or difficulty gaining weight in infants
  • Shortness of breath, fatigue, irregular heart rhythm, and weakness in older children and adults
  • Cough linked to increased air intake or fluid in the lungs
  • Anemia in adolescents and adults
  • Open-mouth breathing in children

Risk Factors for PDA

Premature babies are more prone to develop PDA due to incomplete development of their cardiovascular system in the womb. Other associated risk factors include:

  • Having a mother with rubella during pregnancy
  • Family history of congenital heart defects
  • Infections, such as cytomegalovirus, rubella, herpes simplex virus, toxoplasmosis, or syphilis during pregnancy
  • Fetal intrauterine growth restriction

Treatment of PDA

Treatment for PDA is based on:

  • Age of the patient
  • The size and location of the PDA
  • Presence of associated cardiac anomalies
  • The presence of symptoms
  • The patient’s health condition

Treatment options for PDA includes medications and surgery. Medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or indomethacin, can be prescribed to close the ductus arteriosus. If medications are unsuccessful, surgery may be recommended. The type of surgery usually depends on the patient's age and size of the PDA.