Everything you need to know about Patent Ductus Arteriosus

Patent Ductus Arteriosus

Patent Ductus Arteriosus or PDA is a heart condition. PDA is a persistent opening between two major blood vessels leading from your heart. The opening (known as the ductus Arteriosus), is a normal part of an infant’s circulatory system before birth that generally closes shortly after the birth. However, if it remains open, it is called a Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA).

More about Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)

The ductus arteriosus is a part of the circulatory system of a baby before birth. It detours the blood away from the lungs in the fetus. Usually, it closes within a couple of days after birth. However, in babies with PDA, the ductus arteriosus remains open even after birth.

If the persistent opening is small, it may shrink and eventually closes on its own within one year of childbirth. However, health concerns are more likely when the ductus arteriosus is large. It may result in the weakening of the cardiac (heart) muscles that can lead to heart failure and other serious complications.

What are the symptoms of Patent Ductus Arteriosus?

The symptoms of PDA vary and depend on two factors. These include –

● The size of the opening

● If the baby is born full-term or is premature.

If the PDA is small in the baby, there could be no signs or symptoms, even until adulthood. However, babies with large PDA may experience symptoms soon after their birth. It includes the following –

● Poor growth

● Inadequate feeding

● Breathlessness or fast breathing

● Rapid pulse rate

● Sweating while eating or crying

● Getting tired easily

When does medical attention become crucial?

Get in touch with your doctor immediately if your baby experiences the following issues –

● Gets tired while playing or eating

● Gasps to breath while crying or eating

● Not growing or gaining weight

● Becomes breathless

● Breathes rapidly

Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment

What are the causes of Patent Ductus Arteriosus?

PDA is a congenital heart disorder . It arises due to problems in the early stages of the development of the heart. Although there is no definite cause , genetic factors may contribute.

Before childbirth, the ductus arteriosus (vascular connection) is present between the aorta (the main blood vessel) and the pulmonary (lungs) artery of the fetus. It helps in the circulating blood to the baby. It allows the fetus to get oxygen-rich blood from the mother by redirecting the blood from the lungs of the fetus.

The ductus arteriosus closes within a day or three after birth in most cases. In premature babies, it might take a little longer to shrink and seal. However, if it remains open, the condition is known as Patent Ductus Arteriosus.

This heart defect can cause excessive blood circulation in the heart and the lungs of the baby. If left untreated, it may lead to pulmonary hypertension (increase in the blood pressure in the lungs of the baby) and enlargement of the heart resulting in serious health complications.

What are the risk factors of Patent Ductus Arteriosus?

The risk factors of Patent Ductus Arteriosus include the following –

● Birth-term – PDA is more common in premature babies than in full-term babies.

● Family history/Genetic conditions – Babies with a family history of heart conditions or genetic defects like Down syndrome are at higher risk.

Rubella-virus infection when pregnant – If you get a rubella virus infection during your pregnancy, your baby might be at risk of developing heart diseases.

● Gender – A female child is twice more susceptible to this condition than a male child.

● Altitude at birth – Babies born at higher altitudes (3,048 meters) are at a higher risk of a PDA than babies who are born at lower altitudes.

What are the complications of Patent Ductus Arteriosus?

Some of the complications of PDA when the opening is large includes –

Pulmonary hypertension

Heart failure

Endocarditis (heart infection)

How will your doctor diagnose Patent Ductus Arteriosus?

If you or your child has PDA, on examination, the doctor may notice heart murmurs . For further confirmation he might order –

● Chest X-ray



● Cardiac catheterization

What are the treatment options for Patent Ductus Arteriosus?

The treatment options depend on the severity of the condition and the age of the patient. The options include the following –

Careful monitoring

● In the case of premature babies, the hole tends to close on its own. So, your doctor will observe the heart condition of your baby to ensure that the PDA is closing well.

● In the case of full-term infants, children, and grown-ups with small PDA and who have no other health concerns, all you need to do is wait and observe the PDA closely.


● In premature babies, NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like indomethacin or ibuprofen might be useful. These drugs can block the chemicals that prevent the duct from closing.

● In full-term infants, children, and adults , NSAIDs are not likely to help.

Surgical procedures

● If medications are not working and your child is suffering from health complications, your doctor might recommend surgery. During the surgery, your doctor will mend the open duct with the help of clips or stitches. After the operation, your child will remain under observation in the hospital for a couple of days. It might take a few weeks to recover from the surgery.

● If you are an adult and having health complications due to PDA, your doctor might recommend surgical closure for you as well.

Catheter procedure

In this procedure, a catheter (a thin tube) is inserted into the blood vessel of your groin and guided to your heart. Via this tube, your doctor will insert a coil or plug to mend the opening in the duct.

● Your doctor might not recommend catheter-based treatment for a premature baby if he or she does not have any health concerns due to PDA. In such cases, your doctor will ask you to wait till your baby is old enough to undergo the catheter procedure.

● In case you are an adult or your child is born full-term, your doctor may use this procedure.

Routine Follow-up care

Even if you had surgery for PDA as a child, you are likely to develop certain complications later on in life. Therefore, life-long follow-up is crucial. It includes – periodical screening and discussing care plans, among others.

How can you prevent Patent Ductus Arteriosus?

Although there is no particular method to prevent PDA, ensuring a healthy pregnancy can help with it. Some of the primary preventive measures when you are pregnant include the following-

● Early prenatal care – It is crucial to talk to your doctor about things like stress, birth control pills, medications, etc., before getting pregnant.

● Eat healthy -Following a healthy and balanced diet according to the need of your body. Include dietary supplements that have folic acid. It helps in preventing congenital diseases .

● Workout regularly – Get in touch with your doctor and discuss an exercise plan that works for you.

● Stay away from risks – Refrain from smoking and consuming alcohol when planning to get pregnant. Avoiding saunas is also a good idea.

● Update your vaccinations before becoming pregnant. Certain types of infections can be harmful to a developing baby.

● Keep monitoring the blood glucose level – If your blood sugar level is high, consult with your doctor and discuss diabetic management plans.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Will people with PDA have to undergo more surgeries?

Once your doctor operates on you to fix your PDA, another surgery(s) is unlikely. In some rare scenarios, a residual hole might be there. However, whether your doctor should close it or not depends on the size of the hole.

2. Can you tolerate pregnancy after undergoing a PDA correction surgery?

If you have undergone a PDA correction procedure, you are most likely to lead a normal life and tolerate pregnancy well. However, if you have any other condition such as Eisenmenger syndrome, you should talk to your doctor when planning to get pregnant.

3. Is PDA a life-threatening condition?

An untreated large PDA puts extra pressure on the blood vessels of your lungs and heart vessels. So, it can be life-threatening, especially if your age is between 40 to 50 years.

4. Can your child live a normal life with PDA?

Yes, your child can enjoy a normal life if their PDA is small and does not cause any health complications. Even if the PDA of your child is large, they can live a normal life after PDA correction. However, it is advisable to stay in touch with your doctor.

Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment