Testing & diagnosis for patent ductus arteriosus in children | Boston Children's Hospital

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How is patent ductus arteriosus diagnosed? 

Patent ductus arteriosis is often first detected when your doctor hears an abnormal heart sound or heart murmur when listening to your baby’s heart.

Diagnostic testing for congenital heart disease varies by the child's age, clinical condition, and institutional preferences. Depending on the type of murmur your doctor hears, he or she may order further testing such as:

  • chest x-ray
    • takes a picture of the heart and lungs
    • with PDA, the heart may be enlarged due to larger-than-normal amounts of blood-flow through the lungs
  • electrocardiography (ECG or EKG)
    • records the electrical activity of the heart
  • echocardiography (echo)
    • sound waves are used to create a picture of the heart and look for structural defects and other problems
    • can show the pattern of blood flow through the opening and determine how large the opening is, as well as how much blood is passing through it
    • An echo is the most common way that a PDA is diagnosed.
  • cardiac catheterization
    • gives very detailed information about the structures inside the heart
    • thin, flexible tube (catheter) is inserted into your child’s groin and is guided to the inside of the heart
  • cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
    • non-invasive test that uses 3-D technology to accurately determine blood flow and functioning of the heart as it is working
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