Patent Ductus Arteriosus

What is Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)?

Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) is a continual opening between the two major blood vessels leading from the heart. In medical terms, patent means “failing to close.” The opening is called the ductus arteriosus. So when this opening doesn’t close on its own after a baby’s birth, it is referred to as a patent ductus arteriosus. PDA occurs twice as often in girls as in boys, and is common in premature babies.

A small PDA may close on its own over the first few months of a child’s life and have no symptoms, aside from a PAD heart murmur that will only be detected with a stethoscope. A large PDA heart condition may cause an infant to breathe harder and have difficulty feeding and growing. They cause more blood to be pumped to the lungs, which can overwork and cause permanent damage to the lung blood vessels. Large PDA heart conditions will require treatment.

Patent Ductus Arteriosus Symptoms

Patent ductus arteriosus symptoms will vary depending on the size of the PDA heart condition – a small PDA may have no symptoms at all. Below is a list of patent ductus arteriosus signs and symptoms:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Tiring easily
  • Poor eating, and consequently, poor growth
  • Sweating when crying or eating
  • Chronic rapid breathing or breathlessness

Patent Ductus Arteriosus Causes

Patent ductus arteriosus is a heart defect that occurs at birth. It’s caused when the opening between the aorta and the pulmonary artery – the ductus arteriosus – fails to close after a child is born.

Patent Ductus Arteriosus Diagnosis and Prognosis

A heart murmur accompanies patent ductus arteriosus, and it makes a distinctive sound that is detected with a stethoscope. Hearing this murmur is usually the first step in a doctor diagnosing a PDA heart condition. A chest X-ray is also performed, which will show if the heart is enlarged and an increased amount of blood is flowing into the lungs. Finally, an echocardiogram is used to show the movement of the heart and confirm the diagnosis. A patent ductus arteriosus prognosis is typically considered excellent, and children go on to lead normal, healthy lives.

Patent Ductus Arteriosus Treatment

In some cases, patent ductus arteriosus closes on its own – and can be left to do so if the baby’s heart is stable. In other cases, medicine is used to close the opening. For many children, though, the best option is catheterization or patent ductus arteriosus surgery. In catheterization, catheters are placed in the groin and threaded to the aorta to allow the opening to be closed. In patent ductus arteriosus surgery, a small incision is made between the ribs on the left side and the ductus arteriosus is tied and cut.

Patent Ductus Arteriosus in Adults

Because patent ductus arteriosus is detected and treated at birth, it is uncommon to find an adult with a PDA heart condition. In adults, an undetected PDA would show symptoms such as shortness of breath and heart palpitations. Left untreated, this could lead to an enlarged heart, an infection of the lining of the heart, valves or arteries, congestive heart failure, pulmonary hypertension, and in some cases, death.

Learn More about Patent Ductus Arteriosus from Baptist Health

Successfully treating patent ductus arteriosus is just one example of how the medical professionals at Baptist Health are leading the way in total heart care. Talk to your Heart Care provider to learn more.

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