Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) is a type of congenital heart defect. Congenital heart defects are heart problems a baby is born with. These heart problems are usually diagnosed at or before birth.
In PDA, an opening near the heart called the ductus arteriosus fails to close after birth. ("Patent" means open.)
The heart has two major blood vessels attached to it: the aorta and the pulmonary artery.
Before birth, your baby (fetus) lives in amniotic fluid. So your baby doesn't breathe through the lungs. Instead, the ductus arteriosus helps the baby's body get red blood from the mother. Normally this opening closes shortly after birth because the baby doesn't need it anymore.
If the opening stays open, some of the red blood in the aorta flows back into the pulmonary artery and to the lungs instead of to the rest of the body. Because some of the red blood that was supposed to go to the body is going to the lungs, the heart has to pump harder to get red blood to the body. This can make the heart bigger and make it harder for the heart to pump blood.
Your baby may need special care, such as being in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). This may be scary for you. The hospital staff understands this. They will explain what happens and will answer your questions.
Your doctor may hear abnormal heart sounds, such as a heart murmur, when he or she examines your newborn.
Your doctor will order tests to find the cause of abnormal sounds or of symptoms. The most common test used to identify this defect is called an echocardiogram, or "echo" for short. It uses sound waves to make an image of your baby's heart.
Your baby may have other tests, such as an ECG or EKG (electrocardiogram), chest X-ray, and checking the amount of oxygen in the blood.
Symptoms depend on how big the opening is. Babies with smaller openings may not have symptoms.
If the opening is larger, symptoms may include:
Your doctor will help you understand your baby's condition, your treatment choices, and what to expect from each choice.
Treatment may include:
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
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Current as of: March 28, 2018
Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
& Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Jennifer Merchant, MD - Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine
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