Failure of the ductus to close in the early weeks of life, as
normally occurs, results in a "Patent" (or "Persistent") Ductus
Arteriosus (PDA). This allows blood to flow between the aorta and
the pulmonary artery, leading to an increase in flow in the lung
circulation. If the PDA is large the pressure in the lungs may also
be elevated. Affected babies may develop heart failure in the early
weeks of life.
Children with a small PDA are often asymptomatic, but may
develop Infective Endocarditis.
Surgery may be needed when the ductus is large, but in many
cases the ductus can be closed using a spring coil introduced with
a heart catheter.
With some larger PDAs a 'Device'
(similar to that used for closure of ASD) may be employed.
Various devices have been used in recent years. They are
introduced through a heart catheter, usually under
a general anaesthetic.
This technique is not suitable for premature babies with a PDA
and cannot be used for all affected children, some of whom still
need an operation.
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