Patent Ductus Arteriosus
What is patent ductus arteriosus (PDA)? The ductus is a blood vessel connecting the main vessel leading to the lungs (pulmonary artery) to the main vessel of the body (aorta). Its function in the unborn baby is to allow blood to bypass the lungs, since oxygen for the blood comes from the mother and not from breathing air. Normally after birth the ductus gradually narrows and then closes in the first few hours to days, but in premature infants, this blood vessel may stay open.
Is patent ductus arteriosus dangerous? The opening of this blood vessel causes too much blood to be pumped into the baby's lungs. This leads to an increase in fluid in the lungs and it makes it harder for the baby to breathe. PDA also increases the work of the heart and can lead to lung failure.
How is patent ductus arteriosus treated? If the ductus is very small and there is only a tiny amount of blood flowing through it, the doctors may wait to see if it closes on its own. Treatment methods in more severe cases involve administering medications and decreasing baby's fluid intake. If all else fails, then surgery may be required to close the ductus.