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Surgical Closure of Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) in Children


What you need to know about surgical closure of my child's PDA:

Surgical closure of a PDA is done if the PDA is too large to be closed by other methods or your child's symptoms are severe. This surgery is also called surgical ligation.

How to prepare my child for surgery:

Your child's healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare your child for surgery. The provider may tell you not to give your child anything to eat or drink after midnight on the day of surgery. The provider will tell you what medicines your child should take or not take on the day of surgery.

What will happen during the surgery:

Your child will be given general anesthesia to keep him or her asleep and pain free during the surgery. Your child's healthcare provider will give your child an antibiotic to prevent infection. An incision will be made between 2 ribs on the left side of your child's chest near his or her armpit. Stitches or metal clips will be used to close the PDA. The incision in your child's chest will be closed with stitches.

What will happen after the surgery:

Your child may need to stay in the hospital for up to 3 days. Your child may be given liquids at first. If his stomach does not get upset, your child may slowly begin to eat solid foods.

Risks of surgical closure of a PDA:

Your child may bleed more than expected or get an infection. Fluid may build up in the space around your child's lungs. Your child's vocal cords may become paralyzed from damage to the laryngeal nerve. Your child may get a pneumothorax. This happens when air gets inside the space between his lungs and chest wall. This may be life-threatening.

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • Your child feels lightheaded, is short of breath, and has chest pain.
  • Your child coughs up blood.
  • Your child's skin is blue around his or her mouth or fingertips.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Blood soaks through your child's bandage.
  • The skin around your child's incision is red, swollen, or has pus draining from it.
  • Your child's stitches or staples come apart.

Contact your child's cardiologist if:

  • Your child has pain that will not go away even after he takes pain medicine.
  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child has chills, a cough, or sounds congested.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.


Your child may need any of the following:

  • Antibiotics may be given to prevent a bacterial infection.
  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your child's healthcare provider how to give your child this medicine safely.
  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to give your child and how often to give it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
  • Do not give aspirin to children under 18 years of age. Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin, salicylates, or oil of wintergreen.
  • Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him or her if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.


Let your child rest as much as needed. Ask your child's healthcare provider when he or she can return to his normal daily activities.

Incision care:

Care for your child's incision as directed. Carefully wash around the incision with soap and water. It is okay to let soap and water run over the incision. Do not scrub the incision. Dry the area and put on new, clean bandages as directed. Change your child's bandages when they get wet or dirty. Monitor your child's incision every day for swelling, redness, or pus.

Help protect your child from illness:

Keep your child away from people who are sick. Ask family or friends not to visit if they are sick. Ask all visitors to wash their hands. Do not take your child to crowded places such as the mall or movies. Ask his healthcare provider how long you need to follow these directions.

Do not smoke around your child:

Secondhand smoke can harm your child's heart and lungs. If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you need help quitting.

Follow up with your child's cardiologist as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.