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.
The ductus (duct) connects the two main blood vessels leaving the heart (called the aorta and pulmonary artery). The duct allows the blood to ‘bypass’ the lungs, as they are not needed when the baby is in the womb.
Normally after the birth, the lungs fill with air, and blood flows to the lungs. The duct is then not needed, and usually closes over the first few days of life. In some babies, the duct does not close properly. If the duct remains open, it is called patent ductus arteriosus (PDA).
If the duct is large and causing problems for your baby, treatment may be started to encourage the duct to close. Starting treatment for a large duct in the first few days of life may help prevent problems later. Your baby’s doctor will talk to you about this.
Medication - The medications commonly used for PDA are called indomentacin and ibuprofen. They work best if given before two weeks of age. Usually, they are given into a vein. Doctors usually scan the baby’s heart again during the treatment to see if the medication is working.
Surgery - If the ductus arteriosus remains open, and is causing your baby problems, the doctors may recommend a small operation to close the duct. Not all PDAs need surgery. Given time, some will close on their own, and your baby’s doctor will talk to you about whether your baby would benefit from an operation.