Every baby is born with a ductus arteriosus -- a blood vessel that connects the aorta and pulmonary artery. Because it is not needed after birth, the blood vessel usually closes on its own within the first few days of life. If it doesn’t close, the condition is called a patent ductus arteriosus (PDA). PDA can strain the heart and increase blood pressure in the lungs. Duke pediatric cardiologists and surgeons are experts in diagnosing and treating patent ductus arteriosus safely and effectively. Our pediatric heart program is ranked the best in North Carolina in part because we have the expertise and advanced treatment techniques that are only available at highly qualified hospitals like Duke.
About Patent Ductus Arteriosus
It’s unknown why some PDAs remain open well after birth, but these congenital heart defects are more common in babies born prematurely and tend to affect premature infants more severely. Left untreated, a PDA may allow too much blood to enter the lung arteries. This forces the heart and lungs to work harder, and it can cause the lungs to become dangerously congested. Symptoms in newborns, which may not occur until several weeks after birth, include:
- Heart murmur
- Persistent rapid breathing or breathlessness
- Poor eating and slow growth
- Rapid heart rate
- Sweating while crying or eating
Older children and adults can also be diagnosed with a PDA, as they may not cause issues for decades.
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Tests for PDA
An echocardiogram is the gold standard for diagnosing a patent ductus arteriosus. This specialized ultrasound shows the structure and function of your child’s heart and can help doctors identify the location and size of the open vessel and how much blood is flowing through it.
Why Choose Duke
More Options for Premature Infants
Duke offers a minimally invasive catheterization procedure and a plug-like device that was FDA-approved in 2019 for PDA closure in tiny infants (those who weigh more than 700 grams, which is about 24 ounces). This option may have less risk than surgery and could make PDA closure more common in these babies, helping to prevent or reduce their risk for lung disease and pulmonary hypertension. Duke’s specialized team of neonatologists, respiratory therapists, pediatric cardiac interventionalists, cardiologists, imagers, anesthesiologists, surgeons, and more work together to identify children who could benefit from this procedure, transfer them safely to and from the catheterization lab, and monitor their progress.
Recognized for Excellence
Duke Children’s Hospital is verified as a Level I Children's Surgery Center by the American College of Surgeons. This Level I designation recognizes our commitment to providing the safest and highest-quality surgical care to our young patients.
Duke is the best pediatric cardiology and pediatric heart surgery program in North Carolina, according to US News & World Report.