Patent Ductus Arteriosus

Patent ductus arteriosus is a heart condition in children that occurs when a blood vessel that normally closes after birth remains open.

Approximately eight out of every 1,000 premature babies and two out of every 1,000 full-term babies have a persistent patent ductus arteriosus. Girls are twice as likely to have it than boys.

Remarkable Care for Kids

  • Surgical and nonsurgical treatments available: Experts at the Rush Pediatric Congenital Heart Disease Program provide personalized, coordinated treatment for heart problems that are present at birth, including patent ductus arteriosus. They have extensive expertise treating patent ductus arteriosus using both surgical and nonsurgical techniques.
  • Access to innovative therapies: Pediatric heart specialists at Rush are leaders in research on new therapies for congenital heart defects, so patients at Rush often have access to treatments before they are widely available.
  • Care close to home: Pediatric cardiologists at Rush University Children’s Hospital see patients at a number of convenient locations. They are available to see patients at our Rush campus in Chicago, Rush Oak Park Hospital, Rush Copley Medical Center in Aurora, and at satellite locations throughout the city and the suburbs, including Evergreen Park, Joliet, Hoffman Estates, Tinley Park and Crown Point, IN.

What is patent ductus arteriosus?

Patent ductus arteriosus allows oxygen-rich blood to flow back into the lungs, making it difficult for the lungs to function properly.

The only sign that an infant has patent ductus arteriosus may be a heart murmur. But some babies with the condition may have symptoms of an overworked heart or excess blood flow in the lungs, including the following:

  • Low energy
  • Poor appetite
  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
  • Sweating with exertion
  • Poor weight gain

Care for patent ductus arteriosus at Rush

Babies are normally born with a patent ductus arteriosus, and in most it closes on its own within few days to few weeks. Most babies who continue to have one live normal lives following treatment (if treatment is needed).

If your infant’s physician at Rush suspects a patent ductus arteriosus did not close in your child, a test called echocardiography will be used to confirm the diagnosis.

Once a diagnosis is made, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, including ibuprofen or indomethacin, may be used to encourage the closure of the blood vessel in premature babies.

If the patent ductus arteriosus remains open, your child's doctor might recommend that it be closed either by catheterization (a nonsurgical technique) or surgery:

  • Catheterization, used for small- to medium-sized PDAs, avoids the need for your baby’s chest to be opened. A small coil or plug is inserted through a thin tube called a catheter to block blood flow through the vessel.
  • Surgery is required for larger PDAs and for babies who are too small for catheterization. Through a process called ligation, a highly trained surgeon at Rush who has many years of experience conducting these procedures will tie off the PDA with synthetic suture.