Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) Closure

Make an Appointment

Finding out your baby has a problem with their heart can be scary. You want to know why it happened, what it means, and most importantly, what comes next. You might hear your doctor talk about a PDA, or patent ductus arteriosus. This is a very common finding, especially in premature infants.

At UVA Health Children’s, we are experts in treating heart issues in babies, from simple PDA closures to complex pediatric heart transplants. In all of these procedures, our outcomes are much better than the national average. We also care for premature infants in one of the best NICUs in the country.

What Is a Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)?

All babies have a PDA in the womb. Since babies don’t need to breathe before birth, the PDA allows blood to bypass the lungs. When a baby is born, the PDA usually closes on its own as the baby breathes.

PDAs usually close within days of a baby being born. But for some babies, the ductus arteriosus remains open or ‘patent.’ While only 1% of infants carried to term have a PDA after birth, as many as 40% of babies born prematurely have them.

When a PDA doesn’t close after birth, the direction of blood flow changes. Instead of bypassing the lungs and going to the aorta, the aorta instead adds extra blood to the lungs. This produces increased pressure and fluid in the lungs. This can result in worsening lung disease and something called pulmonary hypertension, or high blood pressure of the lungs, which can be a serious strain on the heart.

Patent Ductus Arteriosus Treatment at UVA Health Children’s

At UVA Health Children’s, we have a lot of experience with PDA diagnosis and treatment. We’ll make sure to address your concerns at every step along the way.

How Is a PDA Diagnosed?

Typically, doctors may suspect a PDA if your baby is having difficulty:

  • Breathing
  • Eating or tolerating feeds
  • Growing

Your doctor may hear a murmur on examination. If your provider suspects that your baby has a PDA, we’ll confirm it with an ultrasound of the heart, called an echocardiogram. This helps establish if your child has a PDA that’s causing their symptoms.

Types of PDA Treatment

Medication – Medication is enough to close PDAs for as many as 50% of patients, but the medications can sometimes cause other complications. It’s not the right option in every case.

Transcatheter occlusion- We can use a small device (an occlusion device) to close your child’s PDA in the cardiac catheterization lab. We insert the device through a long hollow tube, called a catheter. This procedure is minimally invasive and is not an open-heart surgery. Minimally invasive procedures are preferred because it offers a quicker and easier recovery for your child. If we can, we use this method instead of surgery.

Open surgery- If your baby has another congenital heart defect in addition to a PDA, we can close the PDA during surgery.

How we transport newborns for POLeR

Transferring To Our NICU

If you’re not already at UVA Health Children’s NICU, we can still transfer you. We're experienced at safely transferring infants from other hospitals. A transcatheter PDA closure is a minimally invasive procedure that has better outcomes than other closure methods. 

Learn About Minimally Invasive PDA Closure

PDA Closure FAQs

How common is a PDA?

Very common. Almost 10 percent of all congenital heart defects are PDAs. They are especially common in premature infants.

How does the device stay put?

The occlusion device functions like a plug to stop the extra blood flow to the lungs. Over time, the natural tissue of the body grows over the device to seal it in place.

Will my child have a normal life afterwards?

Most children who have PDA treatment go on to lead healthy lives. Although, it’s important to follow-up with their cardiologist after the procedure. They’ll also need regular checkups before playing sports, getting pregnant, or other heart-intensive activity.

Can the hole come back?

Very rarely. And that’s why we schedule follow-up visits. A PDA creates a distinct murmur that can be heard on exam. We can catch it if it comes back.

How likely is it for PDA closure to be successful?

In over 98% of cases, PDA closure is a straightforward success.