What is patent ductus arteriosus?

Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) is a heart condition where the ductus (a small opening between the pulmonary and aortic valves in the heart) doesn’t close after birth. This causes blood to mix between the two valves and puts extra pressure on the lungs.


A child with a small PDA might not have any symptoms other than a heart murmur. Infants with a larger PDA may have:

  • fatigue
  • sweating
  • rapid, congested or heavy breathing
  • a disinterest in feeding, or tiring while feeding
  • poor weight gain


Your child’s doctor may suspect an atrial septal defect if he or she hears an abnormal heart sound or heart murmur when listening to your baby’s heart. To confirm the diagnosis, your doctor may order other tests, including:

  • echocardiogram
  • electrocardiogram
  • chest x-ray
  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)


A small PDA may close on its own as your child grows. Other children may need to take medication or have a procedure to close the PDA.

Learn more about Pediatric Cardiology services at Boston Children’s Health Physicians.

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