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Patent Ductus Arteriosus in the Preterm Infant

Diagnostic and Treatment Options

Prescott, Stephanie MSN, NNP-BC; Keim-Malpass, Jessica PhD, RN

Section Editor(s): Ikuta, Linda MN, RN, CCNS, PHN; ; Zukowsky, Ksenia PhD, APRN, NNP-BC;

doi: 10.1097/ANC.0000000000000340
Clinical Issues in Neonatal Care

Background: The incidence of hemodynamically significant patent ductus arteriosus (hsPDA) increases with decreasing gestational age and is associated with many common morbidities of extreme prematurity. Controversies remain surrounding the definition of hsPDA, the population of infants requiring treatment, the appropriate timing and method of treatment, and the outcomes associated with PDA and its therapies.

Purpose: This integrative literature review focuses on diagnostic and treatment recommendations derived from the highest levels of evidence.

Search Strategy: PubMed and CINAHL were searched using key words “neonatal” and “patent ductus arteriosus” to discover the highest levels of evidence surrounding diagnosis, treatment methods, and outcomes.

Findings/Results: The lack of consensus surrounding the diagnosis and clinical significance of PDA hinders meta-analysis across studies and confounds understanding of appropriate management strategies. Novel biomarkers, pharmaceutical choices, and transcatheter closure methods are expanding diagnostic and treatment options.

Implications for Practice: Infants weighing less than 1000 g are at highest risk. Prophylactic closure is no longer recommended, although early asymptomatic therapy is still preferred by some to avoid prolonged pulmonary overcirculation or decreased renal and gut perfusion. Conservative treatment measures such as fluid restriction and diuretic administration have not consistently proven effective and are in some instances detrimental. Cyclooxygenase inhibitors are effective but have adverse renal and mesenteric effects. Oral ibuprofen is associated with lower instance of necrotizing enterocolitis.

Implications for Research: Well-defined staging criteria would aid in comparison and meta-analysis. Trials that include a control group that receives no therapy may help separate the outcomes associated with prematurity from those associated with PDA.

University of Virginia School of Nursing, Charlottesville (Ms Prescott and Dr Keim-Malpass); and Fairfax Neonatal Associates, Inova Children's Hospital, Fairfax, Virginia (Ms Prescott).

Correspondence: Stephanie Prescott, MSN, NNP-BC, 19615 Edgemont Sq, Ashburn, VA 20147 (;

This work occurred while enrolled at the University of Virginia.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

© 2017 by The National Association of Neonatal Nurses