Response of the patent ductus arteriosus to indomethacin treatment

Am J Dis Child. 1987 Mar;141(3):294-7. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.1987.04460030072028.


The purposes of this study were to examine the response of the patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) to indomethacin, using serial two-dimensional and pulsed Doppler echocardiographic studies, and to correlate the response to treatment with serum indomethacin levels. Nineteen preterm infants (gestational age, 26 to 31 weeks [mean, 28 weeks]; weight, 600 to 1680 g [mean, 1060 g]) were treated with indomethacin. Two-dimensional and pulsed Doppler echocardiograms were obtained before administration of indomethacin and daily thereafter until the day after the last dose. Ductal responses to treatment were graded as open, constricted, or closed, and serum indomethacin levels were obtained 24 hours after the last dose. The PDA initially closed in 11 (58%) of 19 infants; however, in four of the 11, PDA reopened and three of four required surgical ligation. In seven (37%) of 19 patients, the PDA initially constricted, but five of seven subsequently reopened and required ligation. In one patient, indomethacin had no effect on the PDA. The mean indomethacin level for the whole group was 622 ng/mL. There was no difference in indomethacin level between the group with initial closure vs those with constriction (580 vs 590 ng/mL), nor between those who eventually required ligation and those who did not. This study demonstrates that the majority of premature infants respond to indomethacin treatment with ductal constriction or closure but that reopening occurs frequently. The initial response does not mean that the ductus will remain constricted or closed, and surgical intervention may still be necessary. A serum indomethacin level of more than 250 ng/mL does not ensure ductal closure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Drug Evaluation
  • Ductus Arteriosus, Patent / diagnosis
  • Ductus Arteriosus, Patent / drug therapy*
  • Echocardiography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Indomethacin / blood
  • Indomethacin / therapeutic use*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / diagnosis
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Recurrence


  • Indomethacin