Background: Indomethacin is the conventional treatment for hemodynamically important patent ductus arteriosus in preterm infants. However, its use is associated with various side effects. In a prospective study, we compared ibuprofen and indomethacin with regard to efficacy and safety for the early treatment of patent ductus arteriosus in preterm infants.
Methods: We studied 148 infants (gestational age, 24 to 32 weeks) who had the respiratory distress syndrome and an echocardiographically confirmed, hemodynamically important patent ductus arteriosus. The infants were randomly assigned at five neonatal intensive care centers to receive three intravenous doses of either indomethacin (0.2 mg per kilogram of body weight, given at 12-hour intervals) or ibuprofen (a first dose of 10 mg per kilogram, followed at 24-hour intervals by two doses of 5 mq per kilogram each), starting on the third day of life. The rate of ductal closure, the need for additional treatment, side effects, complications, and the infants' clinical course were recorded.
Results: The rate of ductal closure was similar with the two treatments: ductal closure occurred in 49 of 74 infants given indomethacin (66 percent), and in 52 of 74 given ibuprofen (70 percent) (relative risk, 0.94; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.76 to 1.17; P=0.41). The numbers of infants who needed a second pharmacologic treatment or surgical ductal ligation did not differ significantly between the two groups. Oliguria occurred in 5 infants treated with ibuprofen and in 14 treated with indomethacin (P=0.03). There were no significant differences with respect to other side effects or complications.
Conclusions: Ibuprofen therapy on the third day of life is as efficacious as indomethacin for the treatment of patent ductus arteriosus in preterm infants with the respiratory distress syndrome and is significantly less likely to induce oliguria.