Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Your child's doctor may first suspect your child has a patent ductus arteriosus based on listening to your child's heartbeat. Patent ductus arteriosus can cause a heart murmur that the doctor can hear through a stethoscope. If the doctor hears a heart murmur or finds other signs or symptoms of a heart defect, he or she may request one or more of these tests:

  • Echocardiogram. An echocardiogram uses sound waves to produce images of the heart. This image can help doctors see if a PDA is present. Doctors can also see if the heart chambers are enlarged and judge how well the heart is pumping. This test also checks the heart valves and looks for any other heart defects.
  • Chest X-ray. An X-ray image helps the doctor see the condition of your baby's heart and lungs. An X-ray may identify conditions other than a heart defect, as well.
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG). This test records the electrical activity of the heart. This test helps diagnose heart defects or rhythm problems.
  • Cardiac catheterization. This test isn't usually necessary for diagnosing a PDA alone, but may be done to examine other congenital heart defects found during an echocardiogram. In this test, a thin, flexible tube (catheter) is inserted into a blood vessel at your child's groin or arm and guided through it into the heart. Through catheterization, doctors can perform procedures to close the patent ductus arteriosus.
  • Cardiac computerized tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These tests can be used to diagnose heart problems, usually in adults. A patent ductus arteriosus might be discovered when a cardiac CT or MRI is being performed for another reason. In a cardiac CT scan, you lie on a table inside a doughnut-shaped machine. An X-ray tube inside the machine rotates around your body and collects images of your heart and chest.

    In a cardiac MRI, you lie on a table inside a long tube-like machine that produces a magnetic field. The magnetic field aligns atomic particles in some of your cells. When radio waves are broadcast toward these aligned particles, they produce signals that vary according to the type of tissue they are. The signals create images of your heart.

Dec. 22, 2011

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