Skip to Content
Home > Health Information > Health Library > Patent ductus arteriosus
The ductus arteriosus is a blood vessel in a fetus that connects the pulmonary artery, which carries blood to the lungs, and the aorta, which carries blood to the body, so that blood flow bypasses the lungs. Normally, this blood vessel closes at birth as the baby starts breathing. But if the vessel does not close, it is known as a patent (open) ductus arteriosus (PDA).
A patent ductus arteriosus allows some oxygen-rich blood to flow from the aorta back into the pulmonary artery and to the lungs instead of to the rest of the body. Because some of the blood intended for the body returns to the lungs, the left side of the heart has to pump harder to get enough blood to the body. This can enlarge and weaken the heart.
Some babies do not have symptoms from a patent ductus arteriosus. But this abnormality often causes symptoms, such as poor feeding and shortness of breath. An older child may develop heart failure or an infection of the heart's inner lining (infective endocarditis). How bad the symptoms get and whether complications develop depend on how much blood flows through the ductus.
Treatment for a patent ductus arteriosus might be medicine that helps close the blood vessel. Or a doctor will insert a small closure device into the heart during a heart catheterization. This prevents blood from flowing into the lungs. If a heart catheterization can't be done, a surgeon might operate to close the PDA.
Current as of: December 15, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & John Pope MD - Pediatrics & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Larry A. Latson MD - Pediatric Cardiology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2020 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
See important information from Billings Clinic on Non-discrimination and Interpreter Services.
Billings Clinic is proud to be an equal opportunity/affirmative action (EOE/AA) e-verify employer.