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What Does The Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) Connect? What Leads To It & Can It Be Cured?

Patent ductus arteriosus is an abnormal opening between two major blood vessels leading to the heart, during the fetal development, it serves as a shunt.1

Ductus arteriosus closes after a few days of birth however sometimes it fails to close in premature babies. The cause remains unknown.2

Patent ductus arteriosus is usually treated using medicines nevertheless in rare cases, catheter-based procedures and surgery are helpful.3,4

What Does The Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) Connect?

The aorta, the largest artery of the body carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body. During the time of pregnancy, The patent ductus arteriosus serves as a shunt between the major two arteries and carries the oxygenated blood away from the lungs and redirected directly to the body.

When the fetal starts breathing through the lungs it no longer requires ductus, so it automatically shrinks and closes within a few days after birth.1

What Leads To Patent Ductus Arteriosus?

The exact reason for this birth defect is not known however clinical studies demonstrate that genetic factors could be the leading reason. Patent ductus arteriosus is highly noticed in premature infants and is most common in girl babies when compared to boys.

Patent ductus arteriosus is also observed in infants with neonatal respiratory distress syndrome and down syndrome. The ductus arteriosus closes two to three days after birth however in premature babies the connection takes longer to close. When the connection is not closed, it causes too much blood to circulate between the lungs and the heart. This may cause the baby’s heart to enlarge and weaken. Risk factors of Patent ductus arteriosus include:

  • Premature birth
  • Genetic disorder
  • Infection during pregnancy
  • Babies born above 10000 feet.2

Can Patent Ductus Arteriosus Be Cured?

Your healthcare provider may suspect the condition based on the child’s heartbeat. Treatment is often dependent on the patient’s age and health condition. In most cases, the ductus arteriosus resolves on its own. Therefore, your doctor may allow more time to close by itself if there are no noticeable complications.

But in certain cases, it doesn’t happen normally however medicine makes wonders for this problem. A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as indomethacin help constricts muscle walls in infants with Patent ductus arteriosus. But these drugs can induce serious side effects so not all children can be given medicines. When medicines are not effective or cause severe complications surgery or cardiac catheterization may be an alternate option to correct the Patent ductus arteriosus.

During the surgery, the surgeon makes a small incision and repair the open duct using stitches. Recovery takes several days to a few weeks. Catheter procedures are not suitable for premature babies and your doctor may suggest waiting until the baby is older to undergo the procedure. When the procedure is done as an outpatient, your baby can immediately go home and don’t require to stay overnight.

But there are complications involved with these two procedures and particularly with surgery, there is a high risk of the paralyzed diaphragm.3,4 Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) is a normal fetal artery problem wherein the fetus’s blood does not transmit to the lungs to get oxygenated. In most babies when the child has a normal heart, PDA will be narrowed and close on its own within a few days after birth.

However, in premature babies and rare cases of normal babies, it will not shrink and close causing extra blood flow to the lungs. Clinical studies state that this could be due to Patent ductus arteriosus is large. Smaller PDA’s may take time and will close by the time the child is a year old.


  1. “Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) (for Parents) – Nemours KidsHealth.” Edited by Gina Baffa, KidsHealth, The Nemours Foundation, Aug. 2017, https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/patent-ductus-arteriosus.html
  2. “Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA).” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 25 Jan. 2018, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/patent-ductus-arteriosus/symptoms-causes/syc-20376145
  3. Hyperarts, Rob Mayfield -. “Patent Ductus Arteriosus.” Department of Surgery – Patent Ductus Arteriosus, https://surgery.ucsf.edu/conditions–procedures/patent-ductus-arteriosus.aspx
  4. “Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA).” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 25 Jan. 2018, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/patent-ductus-arteriosus/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20376150.

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:July 19, 2021

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