Patent ductus arteriosus care in Denver

Our pediatric cardiology department works in conjunction with our pediatric pulmonary care department to treat a wide range of cardiac and pulmonary congenital abnormalities. One of the many abnormalities we treat is patent ductus arteriosus. A patent ductus arteriosus can be large or small, but parents can feel confident that the physicians at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children in Denver have the expertise, skills and equipment to properly treat their child’s condition.

To learn more about patent ductus arteriosus and the treatments we provide, please call (720) 754-7642

What is patent ductus arteriosus?

Patent ductus arteriosus is a heart problem usually noted in the first few weeks or months following birth. It is characterized by a connection between the aorta and the pulmonary artery which allows oxygen-rich blood that should go to the body to instead circulate through the lungs.

All babies are born with this connection, the ductus arteriosus, between the aorta and the pulmonary artery. While your baby was developing, it was not needed for blood to circulate through the lungs because oxygen was given through the placenta. During pregnancy, a connection was necessary to allow oxygen-rich blood to bypass your child’s lungs and proceed into the body.

When your child is born, the placenta is removed when the umbilical cord is cut. Your baby’s lungs now have to provide oxygen to his or her body. As your baby takes his or her first breath, the blood vessels in their lungs open up, and blood begins to flow through the lungs to pick up oxygen. At this point, the ductus arteriosus is no longer needed to bypass the lungs. Under normal circumstances, the ductus arteriosus will close and blood no longer passes through it. Most babies have a closed ductus arteriosus 72 hours following birth.

In some babies, however, the ductus arteriosus remains open and circulating blood and the condition becomes known as patent ductus arteriosus (PDA). The opening between the aorta and the pulmonary artery allows blood to pass back through the blood vessels in the lungs.

Patent ductus arteriosus accounts for five to 10 percent of congenital heart disease diagnoses and occurs twice as often in girls than it does in boys.

Symptoms of patent ductus arteriosus

Patent ductus arteriosus can cause the heart and lungs to work too hard, resulting in the lungs becoming congested due to the excess blood pumping into the arteries of the lungs. If a patent ductus arteriosus is small, your child may not experience any symptoms and may not need treatment. Although, a large ductus arteriosus may cause problems for your infant, including:

  • Hard or fast breathing
  • Hard time feeding
  • Lack of a normal growth rate
  • High blood pressure

It is important to seek treatment for your child’s patent ductus arteriosus to avoid permanent damage to the blood vessels affected in the lungs.

Treating patent ductus arteriosus

There are a number of procedures that can be performed to correct a patent ductus arteriosus. A catheterization may be performed through inserting catheters to pass through a device to close the patent ductus arteriosus. In some cases, heart surgery may be needed. In this scenario, an incision is made in the chest between the ribs on the left side and the patent ductus arteriosus will be closed through the placement of a suture or by placing a clip to squeeze it shut.

Sometimes, medications can be used in very young infants to encourage the closure of the patent ductus arteriosus and restore normal circulation.