Surgical management of a patent ductus arteriosus: Is this still an option?

Semin Fetal Neonatal Med. 2018 Aug;23(4):255-266. doi: 10.1016/j.siny.2018.03.003. Epub 2018 Mar 7.


The evolution of neonatal intensive care over the past decade has seen the role of surgical patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) ligation in preterm infants both decrease in scope and become laden with uncertainty. Associations of ligation with adverse neonatal and neurodevelopmental outcomes have rendered the ligation decision more challenging for clinicians and have been associated with a decline in surgical treatment, but these findings may be due to bias from confounding by indication in observational studies rather than a causal detrimental effect of ligation. Accordingly, ligation may still be indicated for infants with large ductal shunts and moderate-severe respiratory insufficiency in whom the prospect of timely spontaneous closure appears low. Ultimately a randomized trial of surgical ligation versus conservative management is necessary to assess the efficacy of this invasive intervention in a population of extremely preterm infants with large ductal shunts. Simultaneously, the transcatheter approach to ductal closure in the very immature infant represents an exciting therapeutic alternative but which is still in its infancy. Insights into the pathophysiology of postoperative cardiorespiratory deterioration, including the importance of left ventricular afterload, may help clinicians avoid instability and mitigate a potentially injurious aspect of surgical treatment. This review examines the evidence regarding the benefits and risks of PDA surgery in preterm neonates and provides a pathophysiology-based management paradigm to guide perioperative care in high-risk infants.

Keywords: Bronchopulmonary dysplasia; Extremely low birth weight; Ligation; Milrinone; Neurodevelopment; Patent ductus arteriosus; Post-ligation cardiac syndrome.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures*
  • Ductus Arteriosus, Patent / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Infant, Very Low Birth Weight
  • Intensive Care, Neonatal
  • Treatment Outcome