Prophylactic indomethacin therapy for patent ductus arteriosus in very-low-birth-weight infants

N Engl J Med. 1982 Mar 4;306(9):506-10. doi: 10.1056/NEJM198203043060903.


We performed a double-blind, controlled study of prophylactic indomethacin therapy in 47 premature infants (less than 1700 g) who had subclinical patent ductus arteriosus. They received either indomethacin or placebo at a mean age of 2.9 days. Among the 25 infants weighing more than 1000 g, a hemodynamically important ductus shunt developed in only four of the 14 given placebo. The incidence of important shunts, the number of surgical ligations, and the duration of oxygen therapy were not appreciably different between the study groups. In contrast, among the 22 infants who weighed 1000 g or less, a major ductus shunt developed in 10 of the 12 given placebo. In the smaller infants indomethacin therapy was associated with a significantly lower incidence of major shunts, fewer surgical ligations, a decreased duration of oxygen therapy, and fewer days necessary to regain birth weight. We conclude that prophylactic indomethacin therapy in infants weighing under 1000 g prevents the later development of large ductus shunts and decreases morbidity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Ductus Arteriosus, Patent / complications
  • Ductus Arteriosus, Patent / drug therapy*
  • Ductus Arteriosus, Patent / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Indomethacin / administration & dosage
  • Indomethacin / therapeutic use*
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Male


  • Indomethacin