Skip to main content Skip to navigation
We care about your privacy. Read about your rights and how we protect your data. Get Details

COVID-19 Update:Learn more about how we are protecting our patients, families and staff, as well as other important facts about COVID-19.

Pediatric Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)

Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) diagram

What is patent ductus arteriosus (PDA)? 

PDA is a heart problem that is frequently noted in the first few weeks or months after birth. It is characterized by the persistence of a normal prenatal connection between the aorta and the pulmonary artery which allows oxygen-rich (red) blood that should go to the body to recirculate through the lungs.

All babies are born with this connection between the aorta and the pulmonary artery. While your baby was developing in the uterus, it was not necessary for blood to circulate through the lungs because oxygen was provided through the placenta. During pregnancy, a connection was necessary to allow oxygen-rich (red) blood to bypass your baby's lungs and proceed into the body. This normal connection that all babies have is called a ductus arteriosus.

At birth, the placenta is removed when the umbilical cord is cut. Your baby's lungs must now provide oxygen to his or her body. As your baby takes the first breath, the blood vessels in the lungs open up, and blood begins to flow through them to pick up oxygen. At this point, the ductus arteriosus is not needed to bypass the lungs. Under normal circumstances, within the first few days after birth, the ductus arteriosus closes and blood no longer passes through it. 

In some babies, however, the ductus arteriosus remains open (patent) and the condition now becomes known as patent ductus arteriosus (PDA). The opening between the aorta and the pulmonary artery allows oxygen-rich (red) blood to recirculate into the lungs.

Patent ductus arteriosus occurs twice as often in girls as in boys.

Children's Team

Children's Team

Providers

Joshua Kanter

Joshua Kanter

Medical Director, Interventional Cardiology
Interventional Cardiologist
Tacy Downing, MD

Tacy Downing

Interventional Cardiologist
Adult Congenital Cardiologist
Our Stories

Our Stories

xiomara teaser 2

Xiomara's Story

When Xiomara's mother Elena was 20 weeks pregnant, her ultrasound uncovered something that didn’t look right. Elena was referred to Children’s National Hospital to meet with Mary Donofrio, M.D., in the Fetal Heart Program who flagged a few potential heart issues and continued to monitor Xiomara throughout the remainder of the pregnancy.

Departments

Departments

Cardiac Catheterization

We perform hundreds of catheterization procedures every year. We treat children with the most complex heart, blood vessel, and valve conditions. We have one of the highest success rates for cardiac catheterization procedures. Learn more about Cardiac Catheterization.

Prenatal Cardiology Program

Children diagnosed with heart conditions before they are born receive comprehensive, expert care from our fetal cardiology specialists. Learn more about our Prenatal Cardiology Program.

Cardiac Surgery

Our pediatric heart surgery team performs twice the number of surgeries of any other hospital in the region, with some of the best outcomes in the nation.

Children's National Heart Institute

Our expert pediatric heart team, including more than 40 subspecialties, offer advanced heart care and excellent outcomes for thousands of children every year.

Cardiology

The pediatric heart experts at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., provide advanced care for unborn babies, children and young adults with heart conditions.