Patent Ductus Arteriosus

Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) is a type of congenital heart defect found in the days or weeks after birth. The ductus arteriosus is a normal part of fetal blood circulation before a baby is born. It’s an extra blood vessel that connects 2 arteries: the pulmonary artery and the aorta. Before birth, the ductus arteriosus lets blood go around (bypass) the lungs. This is because the baby gets oxygen from the mother.

All babies are born with this opening between the aorta and the pulmonary artery. But it often closes on its own shortly after birth, once the baby breathes on its own. If it stays open (patent), it is called patent ductus arteriosus. With PDA, extra blood flows to the lungs. If the PDA is large, too much blood goes to the lungs. The blood vessels and the lungs have to work much harder to handle the extra blood. This can lead to fluid buildup in the lungs. The baby can have a harder time breathing and feeding.

Patent Ductus Arteriosus
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Causes of Patent Ductus Arteriosus

Doctors know that heart defects present at birth (congenital) arise from errors early in the heart's development, but there's often no clear cause.

Symptoms of Patent Ductus Arteriosus

Signs and symptoms of patent ductus arteriosus usually appear within the first days of life and may include:

  • Poor eating and poor weight gain
  • Rapid breathing or shortness of breath
  • Profuse sweating, especially with feeding
  • More sleepiness than normal
  • Unresponsiveness (the baby seems "out of it")
  • Heart murmur

Diagnosis of Patent Ductus Arteriosus

To diagnose this condition, your doctor will perform a variety of tests, including but not limited to:

Diagnostic tests and procedures

Treatment of Patent Ductus Arteriosus

Depending on the size of the PDA, symptoms can vary. If your baby is born extremely prematurely, treatment may be required early on; while others could wait. Some treatment options include:

Medical and surgical procedures

Newark Beth Israel Medical Center
201 Lyons Avenue at Osborne Terrace
Newark, NJ 07112
(973) 926-7000
Children's Hospital of New Jersey at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center
201 Lyons Avenue at Osborne Terrace
Newark, NJ 07112
(973) 926-7000

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