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All information about patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) causes of patent ductus arteriosus symptoms of patent ductus arteriosus diagnosis of patent ductus arteriosus treatments for patent ductus arteriosus

How is patent ductus arteriosus diagnosed?

Your child's physician may have heard a heart murmur during a physical examination, and referred your child to a pediatric cardiologist for a diagnosis. A heart murmur is simply a noise caused by the turbulence of blood flowing through the opening from the left side of the heart to the right.

A pediatric cardiologist specializes in the diagnosis and medical management of congenital heart defects, as well as heart problems that may develop later in childhood. The cardiologist will perform a physical examination, listening to the heart and lungs, and make other observations that help in the diagnosis. The location within the chest where the murmur is heard best, as well as the loudness and quality of the murmur (harsh, blowing, etc.) will give the cardiologist an initial idea of which heart problem your child may have. However, other tests are needed to help with the diagnosis, and may include the following:

  • chest x-ray - a diagnostic test that uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film. With a PDA, the heart may be enlarged due to larger amounts of blood flow through the lungs than normal. Also, there may be changes that take place in the lungs due to extra blood flow that can be seen on an x-ray.
  • electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) - a test that records the electrical activity of the heart, shows abnormal rhythms (arrhythmias or dysrhythmias), and detects heart muscle stress
  • echocardiogram (echo) - a procedure that evaluates the structure and function of the heart by using sound waves recorded on an electronic sensor that produce a moving picture of the heart and heart valves. An echo can show the pattern of blood flow through the PDA, and determine how large the opening is, as well as how much blood is passing through it.
  • cardiac catheterization - a procedure that gives very detailed information about the structures inside the heart. Under sedation, a small, thin, flexible tube (catheter) is inserted into a blood vessel in the groin, and guided to the inside of the heart. Blood pressure and oxygen measurements are taken in the four chambers of the heart, as well as the pulmonary artery and aorta. Contrast dye is also injected to more clearly visualize the structures inside the heart.
  • cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - a non-invasive test that uses three-dimensional imaging technology produced by magnets to accurately determine blood flow and functioning of the heart as it is working.
  • More information on patent ductus arteriosus

    What is patent ductus arteriosus (PDA)? - Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) is a congenital heart defect wherein a child's ductus arteriosus fails to close after birth.
    What causes patent ductus arteriosus? - Some babies are more likely to have PDA, especially premature babies. In premature infants, especially those who have had respiratory distress syndrome, this blood vessel may stay open.
    What are the symptoms of patent ductus arteriosus? - Symptoms of patent ductus arteriosus may include fatigue, sweating, rapid breathing, heavy breathing, congested breathing, disinterest in feeding, or tiring while feeding, poor weight gain.
    How is patent ductus arteriosus diagnosed? - Your child's physician may have heard a heart murmur during a physical examination, and referred your child to a pediatric cardiologist for a diagnosis.
    What're the treatments for patent ductus arteriosus? - Both surgical and non-surgical methods of treatment are available. In premature infants, an intravenous (IV) medication called indomethacin may help close a patent ductus arteriosus.
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