The aorta moves blood away from the heart to the rest of the body. The pulmonary artery moves blood from the heart to the lungs.
Before birth and for a few days after birth, the pulmonary artery and the aorta are connected by a short blood vessel called the ductus arteriosus.
After birth, the ductus needs to close quickly so blood can flow normally, first through the lungs and then to the body.
Patent is a medical term that means "open." In patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), the ductus arteriosus doesn't close.
Premature babies are more likely to have PDA
Often there aren't any symptoms, but a doctor listening with a stethoscope may hear a heart murmur (an unusual sound between heartbeats)
Doctors treat PDA with medicine and sometimes surgery
Babies with PDA have a higher than normal chance of getting a heart infection
Patent Ductus Arteriosus: Failure to Close
Doctors aren't sure why the ductus arteriosus doesn't close as it should in some babies, but PDA is much more common in premature babies Premature Baby "Pre-" means before, and "mature" means fully grown. A premature baby is born too early. A full pregnancy lasts 37 to 40 weeks, so a premature baby is born anytime before the 37th week of pregnancy... read more .
Doctors suspect PDA if they hear a certain type of heart murmur. Doctors confirm the diagnosis by:
Echocardiography Echocardiography and Other Ultrasound Procedures Echocardiography can be used to detect abnormalities in heart wall motion and to measure the volume of blood being pumped from the heart with each beat. This procedure can also detect abnormalities... read more (ultrasound of the heart)
Doctors will also do:
ECG Electrocardiography Electrocardiography is a test that measures your heart’s electrical activity. It's quick, painless, and harmless. The results of that test are shown in an electrocardiogram. It looks like a... read more (a painless test that measures the heart’s electrical currents and records them on a piece of paper)
Treatment depends on:
Sometimes a small PDA will close on its own. This usually happens before a baby is 1 year old. If doctors need to treat your baby's PDA, they may: