Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

A patent ductus arteriosus may be found while your baby is still in the hospital after birth, sometimes when having tests for other reasons. Your child may also have a PDA discovered later, sometimes because of a heart murmur. You may have an appointment with your child's pediatrician or with a pediatric cardiologist to discuss potential health problems resulting from your child's PDA. If you suspect your child has a PDA or another type of congenital heart disease, make an appointment to see your child's pediatrician to discuss your concerns.

Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be prepared for your appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your child's doctor.

What you can do

  • Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, be sure to ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your child's diet. If your child is having imaging tests, for example, he or she may need to fast beforehand.
  • Write down any symptoms your child is experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to patent ductus arteriosus or another heart defect.
  • Write down key personal information, including a family history of heart defects and any major stresses or recent life changes.
  • Bring copies of past medical records, including reports from any previous surgeries or imaging tests that you have.
  • Make a list of all current medications, vitamins or supplements that your child is taking.
  • Be prepared to discuss your child's diet and exercise habits. If your child doesn't already follow a diet or exercise routine, be ready to talk to your doctor about any challenges your child might face in getting started.
  • Write down questions to ask the doctor.

Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For patent ductus arteriosus, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • Is the PDA causing any problems?
  • Are my child's symptoms related to the PDA or due to other causes?
  • What kinds of tests are necessary?
  • What type of treatment is necessary? Will my child need surgery?
  • What's an appropriate level of physical activity?
  • How will my child need to be screened for complications due to PDA?
  • What are the alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
  • Should my child see a cardiologist specializing in congenital heart defects?
  • Is this condition inherited? If I have another child, what are the odds that he or she will also have a PDA?
  • Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend visiting?

In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask additional questions that may come up during your appointment.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:

  • When did you first notice your child's symptoms?
  • Have the symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • How severe are the symptoms?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve the symptoms?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen the symptoms?
  • What medications have you or your child taken or surgeries has your child had to treat the condition?
Dec. 22, 2011

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