Assessing the clinical significance of echocardiograms in determining treatment of patent ductus arteriosus in neonates

Youssef, D., Flores, M.N., Ebrahim, E., Eshak, K., Westerink, J., Chaudhuri, D., Balakrishnan, N., Mukerji, A., Mondal, T.* | JNPM 2020;


BACKGROUND: To evaluate the utility of echocardiogram (ECHO) in detection and treatment of patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) and hemodynamically significant PDA (hsPDA) in preterm neonates.

METHODS: This was a retrospective case-control study of all preterm infants born or admitted to the level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in McMaster Children’s Hospital from January 2009 to January 2013. These cases were further classified into the following sub-groups: group A) hsPDA confirmed on ECHO; and the control, group B) PDA (but not hemodynamically significant) confirmed on ECHO. Patients without an ECHO were excluded from all analyses. The primary outcome was incidence of treatment for PDA.

RESULTS: PDA treatment was administered in 83.3% and 11.2% of patients in groups A and B respectively (P < 0.05). Among patients with a hsPDA within group A, 17% did not receive treatment, while 11% of patients with non-hemodynamically significant PDA received treatment for the PDA. Within the cohort of patients who received treatment for a hsPDA, gestational age below 35 weeks as well as murmurs heard on auscultation were both found to be predictors of treatment.

CONCLUSION: While the ECHO remains the gold standard for detecting pathological PDA, there is evidence that other traditional clinical measures continue to guide clinical practice and treatment decisions. Further research is required to gain an understanding of how clinical measures and ECHO may be used in conjunction to optimize resource utilization.

*Corresponding Author: 

Dr. Tapas Mondal, Associate Professor, McMaster University, Division of Cardiology, Department of Pediatrics, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Tel.: +1 905 521 2100/ Ext 75259, 75264; Fax: +1 905 521 7914; E-mail: