The ductus arteriosus is a vascular fetal structure that usually closes in the first 48 hours after birth; a patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) occurs when it fails to close.
Persistence of the ductus arteriosus can result in heart failure, increased pulmonary pressures, and endarteritis.
The incidence and sequelae of a PDA are more significant in premature infants than infants born at full-term.
Clinical history and presentation can vary significantly depending on age of the child and the size of the ductus. Patients may be entirely asymptomatic or have signs and symptoms of heart failure and haemodynamic instability.
Treatment options vary depending on the age of the patient and the size of the ductus. Practice may vary significantly between institutions.
Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) describes the persistence of a fetal vascular structure, known as the ductus arteriosus, after birth. The ductus arteriosus connects the main pulmonary artery to the aorta, allowing blood to bypass the lungs in utero. It usually closes in the first 48 hours of life.
History and exam
Key diagnostic factors
- presence of risk factors
- presentation in infancy
Other diagnostic factors
- tachypnoea/shortness of breath (SOB)
- failure to thrive
- exercise intolerance
- widened pulse pressure
- machine-like continuous murmur/Gibson murmur in children born at full-term
- low diastolic blood pressure (BP)
- increased respiratory symptoms with upper respiratory tract infection
- murmur heard only during systole
- hyperdynamic precordium
- systolic thrill
- third heart sound heard at apex
- mid-diastolic rumble heard at apex
- bounding peripheral pulses
- pulmonary rales
- maternal rubella
- female sex
- respiratory distress syndrome (RDS)
- high altitude
- family history
- black race
1st investigations to order
- chest x-ray
Investigations to consider
- cardiac catheterisation and angiography
premature very low birth weight infants: prophylactic therapy
premature infants (<32 weeks)
term infants and children: small-to-moderate-sized ducts
term infants and children: large ducts and/or symptomatic infants too small for device closure
- Venous hum
- Coronary artery fistula
- Left-sided shunts (ventricular septal defect, atrioventricular septal defect)
- Guidelines for cardiovascular intervention in adults with congenital heart disease
- Management of the patent ductus arteriosus in preterm infants
- Log in or subscribe to access all of BMJ Best Practice
Use of this content is subject to our disclaimer