How is Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) Diagnosed?


Your child’s pediatrician may first suspect a PDA if they hear a heart murmur during their examination, or other signs such as a rapid heartbeat or a very low diastolic blood pressure. They will refer you to a pediatric cardiologist for the following tests to diagnose PDA:

  • Echocardiogram - an ultrasound that checks the structure and function of your baby’s heart. It will reveal to your doctor if there is a PDA and if the heart chambers have become enlarged due to increased blood flow.
  • Chest x ray - may show an enlarged heart and a large amount of blood flow to the lungs.
  • Electrocardiogram - this test, which checks the electrical activity of the heart, is often normal in patients with a small PDA, but is usually abnormal in children with larger ones.

How is Patent Ductus Arteriosus Treated?


If the PDA is small, your child may not require any treatment. The hole may close on its own over time. If it’s larger, your doctor may recommend the following PDA treatments:

  • Medications - in premature babies only, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, or the prescription drug indomethacin (Indocin) may be used to help close a PDA. These medications block prostaglandins, which are the hormones that keep PDAs open. This treatment isn’t effective in full term infants or older babies or children.
  • Catheter repair - involves inserting a catheter or long thin tube into the blood vessels of the leg and is the most common treatment for a PDA. Through the catheter, a plug is inserted into the tube of the PDA to close it. This approach is used in almost all cases of PDA except for the smallest premature infants. This will restore normal blood flow immediately if there are no other heart defects.
  • Surgery - through an incision made in the left side of the chest between the ribs, the tube of the ductus is closed by tying a suture around both ends or by placing small metal clips at each end. In most cases, after closing both ends of the tube, the surgeon will cut the tube in the middle. This will restore normal blood flow immediately if there are no other heart defects.



If the PDA is small, it may close on its own within the first few months of life. A pediatric cardiologist will monitor your child and advise whether the PDA requires further treatment. 

Yes, but it’s usually a coincidental finding during a physical exam or echocardiogram. If your PDA is causing symptoms, such as a heart murmur or palpitations, it may require treatment.

A genetic disorder, such as Down syndrome or a family history of heart defects, may raise the risk that your baby is born with a PDA.

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Trust NewYork-Presbyterian for Patent Ductus Arteriosus Treatment

At NewYork-Presbyterian, our team of pediatric cardiology specialists provide compassionate care and comprehensive treatment for patent ductus arteriosus. It is important to recognize the symptoms of a patent ductus arteriosus in your infant or child, for early diagnosis and prompt treatment. Get care if you notice common signs of a PDA to avoid potential complications. Make an appointment with one of our pediatric cardiologists today.