Indomethacin (INDO) and, more recently, ibuprofen (IBU) have been used to treat haemodynamically significant patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) in preterm infants. Both are cyclo-oxygenase blockers, but seem to have a different influence on regional circulation. In a prospective, randomised, controlled study, we compared INDO and IBU with regard to efficacy and safety for the early non-invasive treatment of PDA. Doppler echocardiography was used to study 232 preterm infants (gestational age 23-34 weeks) with respiratory distress syndrome of whom 175 had persistent, haemodynamically significant PDA at 48-72 h of life. They were randomised to receive three intravenous doses of either INDO (0.2 mg/kg, at 12 h intervals) or IBU (a first 10 mg/kg dose followed by two doses of 5 mg/kg at 24 h intervals), recording rate of ductal closure, need for additional treatment, side-effects and clinical course. The efficacy of the pharmacological treatment was similar in the two groups (56/81, 69% INDO; 69/94, 73% IBU). Patients treated with INDO showed a significant increase in serum creatinine (89 +/- 24 versus 82 +/- 20 mmol/l, P = 0.03) and a near-significant tendency for a lower fractional excretion of sodium (3 +/- 3 versus 4 +/- 2%, P = 0.08); moreover, 12/81 (15%) INDO patients versus 1/94 (1%) IBU patients became oliguric (< 1 ml/kg per h) during treatment (P = 0.017).
Conclusion: Our findings confirm that, by comparison with indomethacin, ibuprofen has fewer effects on renal function in terms of urine output and fluid retention, with much the same efficacy and safety in closing patent ductus arteriosus in preterm infants with respiratory distress syndrome. In particular, no increased incidence of intracranial haemorrhage was observed after ibuprofen treatment.