Patent ductus arteriosus of the preterm infant

Pediatrics. 2010 May;125(5):1020-30. doi: 10.1542/peds.2009-3506. Epub 2010 Apr 26.


A persistently patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) in preterm infants can have significant clinical consequences, particularly during the recovery period from respiratory distress syndrome. With improvement of ventilation and oxygenation, the pulmonary vascular resistance decreases early and rapidly, especially in very immature infants with extremely low birth weight (<1000 g). Subsequently, the left-to-right shunt through the ductus arteriosus (DA) is augmented, thereby increasing pulmonary blood flow, which leads to pulmonary edema and overall worsening of cardiopulmonary status. Prolonged ventilation, with the potential risks of volutrauma, barotrauma, and hyperoxygenation, is strongly associated with the development and severity of bronchopulmonary dysplasia/chronic lung disease. Substantial left-to-right shunting through the ductus may also increase the risk of intraventricular hemorrhage, necrotizing enterocolitis, and death. Postnatal ductal closure is regulated by exposure to oxygen and vasodilators; the ensuing vascular responses, mediated by potassium channels, voltage-gated calcium channels, mitochondrial-derived reactive oxygen species, and endothelin 1, depend on gestational age. Platelets are recruited to the luminal aspect of the DA during closure and probably promote thrombotic sealing of the constricted DA. Currently, it is unclear whether and when a conservative, pharmacologic, or surgical approach for PDA closure may be advantageous. Furthermore, it is unknown if prophylactic and/or symptomatic PDA therapy will cause substantive improvements in outcome. In this article we review the mechanisms underlying DA closure, risk factors and comorbidities of significant DA shunting, and current clinical evidence and areas of uncertainty in the diagnosis and treatment of PDA of the preterm infant.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Comorbidity
  • Ductus Arteriosus, Patent / diagnosis
  • Ductus Arteriosus, Patent / physiopathology
  • Ductus Arteriosus, Patent / therapy*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Infant, Extremely Low Birth Weight*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / diagnosis
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / physiopathology
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / therapy*
  • Pulmonary Circulation / physiology
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Newborn / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome, Newborn / physiopathology
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vascular Resistance / physiology