What is a PDA (Patent Ductus Arteriosus)?
Basically, the Ductus Arteriosus is a structure that exists during fetal development to allow the fetus to circulate oxygenated blood while their lungs are still developing (recall that a baby’s first breath is the first time their lungs expand with inhaled, atmospheric air). See the picture above for the location of the Ductus Arteriosus.
However, after birth, this Ductus usually closes since the lungs take over—instead of the mother’s blood—as the body’s oxygen source. When the Ductus remains open, it is called a patent Ductus Arteriosus (aka PDA). Depending on how the infant is doing otherwise (how is it’s heart? does it have any other problems?) & the size of the opening of the PDA (is it just slowly closing or is it wide open?), a PDA may be symptomatic or asymptomatic. Symptoms are generally under the heading “failure to thrive”: feeding difficulties and poor growth.
PDAs are diagnosed via a chest X-ray & then an echocardiogram. If needed, a PDA can be chemically closed (with a strong NSAID) or with surgery.
Read more here: http://www.patient.co.uk/doctor/Patent-Ductus-Arteriosus.htm