Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Treatments for patent ductus arteriosus depend on the age of the person being treated. Options might include:

  • Watchful waiting. In a premature baby, a PDA often closes on its own. The doctor will monitor your baby's heart to make sure the open blood vessel is closing properly. For full-term babies, children and adults who have small PDAs that aren't causing other health problems, monitoring might be all that's needed.
  • Medications. In a premature baby, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) — such as ibuprofen (Advil, Infant's Motrin, others) or indomethacin (Indocin) — might be used to help close a PDA. NSAIDs block the hormonelike chemicals in the body that keep the PDA open. NSAIDs won't close a PDA in full-term babies, children or adults.
  • Open-heart surgery. If medications aren't effective and your child's condition is severe or causing complications, open-heart surgery might be recommended. A surgeon makes a small cut between your child's ribs to reach your child's heart and repair the open duct using stitches or clips.

    After the surgery, your child will remain in the hospital for several days for observation. It usually takes a few weeks for a child to fully recover from open-heart surgery. Open-heart surgery might also be recommended for adults who have a PDA that's causing health problems. Possible risks include hoarseness, bleeding, infection and a paralyzed diaphragm.

  • Catheter procedures. Premature babies are too small for catheter procedures. However, if your baby doesn't have PDA-related health problems, the doctor might recommend waiting until the baby is older to do a catheter procedure to correct the PDA. Catheter procedures can also be used to treat full-term babies, children and adults.

    In a catheter procedure, a thin tube (catheter) is inserted into a blood vessel in the groin and threaded up to the heart. Through the catheter, a plug or coil is inserted to close the ductus arteriosus.

    If the procedure is done on an outpatient basis, your child probably won't stay overnight in the hospital. Complications from catheter procedures include bleeding, infection, or movement of the plug or coil from where it was placed in the heart.

Preventive antibiotics

In the past, people who've had a PDA were advised to take antibiotics before dental work and certain surgical procedures to prevent a heart infection (infective endocarditis). Today, preventive antibiotics are no longer recommended for most people with a patent ductus arteriosus.

Your child may need to take preventive antibiotics the first six months after a catheter repair procedure or if there's still damage after the repair. Talk to your doctor about whether your child needs to take antibiotics before any procedures.

Dec. 16, 2014