Treatment options for PDA include medicine, catheter-based procedures and surgery, all with the goal of closing the PDA, thus preventing complications and reversing the effects of increased blood flow. Small PDAs can close without treatment. For full-term babies, treatment is required if the PDA is large or causes health problems. For premature infants, treatment is needed if the PDA is causing heart of breathing problems.
A medicine called indomethacin may be used to cause the PDA to close in a premature infant. This medicine causes the PDA to constrict or tighten, thus closing the opening, though it usually doesn’t work with full-term babies. Ibuprofen may also be prescribed for premature babies; it acts similarly to indomethacin.
Catheter-based procedures, meanwhile, are used for children large enough to handle the procedure. Sometimes referred to as transcatheter device closure, the procedure involves a blocking device passed through a thin, flexible tube inserted into a large blood vessel in the groin. This device blocks the blood flow through the vessel. Catheter-based procedures don’t require opening the child’s heart, and often permit a quick recovery; complications tend to be rare and short term.
Surgery is performed is the child has PDA-related health problems and is too small for a catheter-based procedure, a catheter-based procedure doesn’t work or surgery is already planned for congenital heart defects. The surgery typically involves a small incision between the child’s rubs and the use of stitches or clips to close the PDA.