Patent Ductus Arteriosus
Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) is a common heart condition in babies. The ductus arteriosus is a small blood vessel that is normally present just outside a baby’s heart when they are in the womb. It forms a link between the two main arteries in the body, the aorta and the pulmonary arteries. The duct allows the blood to ‘bypass’ the lungs, as they are not needed when the baby is in the womb.
As the lungs are filled with fluid when in the womb, there is no exchange of gases needed between the lungs and blood. At birth, the baby takes their first breath; heart pressure changes and the lungs expand with air. This causes blood flow to be directed towards the lungs for oxygenation and gas exchange. After birth, the duct is then not needed and closes within the first few minutes of life. If the duct remains open, it is called PDA, which can last hours, and sometimes days.
If the duct is large and is causing problems for the baby, treatment will be required to encourage the duct to close. Treatment will be either medication or surgery. Your baby’s doctor will discuss with you the correct treatment that your baby needs.
The medications used to treat PDA are called indometacin and ibuprofen.These work best if given within the first two weeks of life.They are usually given into the vein (intravenously).Your baby’s heart will be scanned after treatment to determine if the treatment is working.
If the medications are not working, the doctor may recommend a small surgery to close the duct. The doctor’s recommendation to perform surgery will depend on the problems experienced by your baby.