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What Are The First Symptoms Of Patent Ductus Arteriosus & How Do You Test For It?

The initial symptoms of the patent ductus arteriosus dependent on the size of the ductus and how much blood flow it carries.12

When the patent ductus arteriosus is small it doesn’t cause symptoms and closes within a few days after birth. However, when it doesn’t happen naturally these children undergo fast breathing, poor feeding, and poor weight gain.3

An echocardiogram and chest x-ray will show the appearance of an enlarged heart and evidence of the excessive flow of blood flowing through the lungs.45

What Are The First Symptoms Of Patent Ductus Arteriosus?

Patent Ductus Arteriosus is a heart problem that occurs due to a birth defect. During this problem, there is an abnormal flow of blood between the major two arteries. The blood circulation of the fetus in the mother’s womb is through ductus arteriosus between the aorta and pulmonary artery.

Babies before birth don’t breathe through their lungs instead, they get oxygen from the mother’s blood. The ductus arteriosus helps pass oxygen through the lungs however with pre-term infants or infants born with the genetic disorder the patent ductus arteriosus doesn’t close and causes problems.

When the PDA is not large it closes on their own after a few days of birth showing no symptoms. But on the contrary, when it does not close, your healthcare provider may notice a murmuring sound in your child’s heartbeat. Some of the first symptoms of patent duct arteriosus include

Although there are no symptoms in certain cases still there will be excessive blood flow through the patent ductus arteriosus causing heart failure and stroke.12

How Can Patent Ductus Arteriosus Be Diagnosed?

Since these babies’ heartbeats are not regular it produces a distinctive murmur sound that is heard during the regular physical examination. The condition left untreated results in heart failure and morbidity. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this complication however when diagnosed early and treated properly patent ductus arteriosus can be well managed.3

During a physical exam, your healthcare provider will ask for your baby’s symptoms and health history. Based on the symptoms you may be recommended to check with a pediatric cardiologist. They are specialized in diagnosing and treating heart problems in infants. Your baby may require the following examinations

Chest X-Ray: The condition becomes only evident when there is a moderate patent ductus arteriosus. This test will indicate the clinical features of this congenital heart disease.

Electrocardiogram- Also known as ECG diagnosis of the electrical activity of the heart. For smaller PDA’s ECG reports are usually normal.

Echocardiogram– This uses sound waves to make a moving picture of the blood flow of the heart. This is one of the most commonly used diagnostic procedures to identify patent ductus arteriosus. It detects the abnormalities in the heart rhythm and shows how large the opening is.45

Smaller PDA’s resolves on its own as the infant grows. However, not all patent ductus arteriosus closes on its own and start showing symptoms. Your child’s cardiologist can help with all your queries on your child’s treatment.

The outlook of the condition is very good when it is diagnosed and treated properly. Recovery is often dependent on the severity of the condition and how early the baby is born.


  1. Hyperarts, Rob Mayfield -. “Patent Ductus Arteriosus.” Department of Surgery – Patent Ductus Arteriosus, surgery.ucsf.edu/conditions–procedures/patent-ductus-arteriosus.aspx.
  2. “Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA).” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 25 Jan. 2018, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/patent-ductus-arteriosus/symptoms-causes/syc-20376145.
  3. “Default – Stanford Children’s Health.” Stanford Children’s Health – Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=patent-ductus-arteriosus-pda-90-P01811.
  4. “Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA).” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Diagnosis & Treatment 25 Jan. 2018, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/patent-ductus-arteriosus/symptoms-causes/syc-20376145.
  5. “Patent Ductus Arteriosus.” Diagnosis & Treatment Patent Ductus Arteriosus | CS Mott Children’s Hospital | Michigan Medicine, www.mottchildren.org/conditions-treatments/ped-heart/conditions/patent-ductus-arteriosus.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:October 22, 2020

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