Patient & Family Education Materials

Start over with a New Search

Patent ductus arteriosus

translations available: Spanish

What is a patent ductus arteriosus?

Every baby is born with a ductus arteriosus (duk-tus ar-tee-ree-oh-sus) a blood vessel that connects the pulmonary artery and the aorta. All of these blood vessels lie just outside the heart (see picture).

Before birth, the ductus arteriosus lets the baby's blood bypass the lungs (go around them). During this time, oxygen is being supplied to the baby by the mother through the placenta. The ductus arteriosus should close soon after birth.

If a baby's ductus arteriosus does not close, it is called a "patent" (open) ductus arteriosus, or PDA. This condition is common in premature babies. It often causes increased blood flow to the lungs and a heart murmur (an extra noise heard with a stethoscope).

Does a PDA need to be treated?

A child with a PDA may develop breathing problems because the PDA allows extra blood flow to the lungs. If this happens the PDA may need to be closed. In small babies, this can sometimes be done with medicine given into the vein (IV). If the medicine cannot be used because of your child's age, condition, or if it does not work, there are other ways to close it:

Cardiac catheterization: A catheter (tube) is inserted into an artery in the groin, and threaded up to the heart. A plug is inserted into the PDA. See the education sheet "Cardiac catheterization: Care at home."

Surgery: An incision is made in the left side of the chest and a permanent stitch is tied around the PDA. See the education sheet "Cardiac surgery: Care at home."


This is not specific to your child but provides general information. If you have any questions about your child's condition, please call the doctor.

Reviewed 7/2015 © Copyright

Back To Top

This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Family Resource Center library, or visit

© 2018 Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota