The ductus arteriosus is a normal vascular channel during intrauterine life. It is a large vessel with a muscular wall which courses between the pulmonary artery and the aorta.
The ductus arteriosus normally closes within the first 48 hours of life. If it remains patent longer than this it is unlikely to close spontaneously. The exception is in premature babies where closure should occur within 3 months.
A persistently patent ductus is a common congenital heart lesion, occurring either singly or in combination with other defects.
It is more common in:
- girls than in boys
- congenital rubella syndrome
- premature babies
Refs: 1) D. Hull & D.I. Johnston in Essential Paediatrics, 3rd edition, Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh, p.138-9 2) R.S. Cotran, V. Kumar and S.L. Robbins in Robbins Pathologic Basis of Disease, 4th edition, W.B. Saunders Co., Philadelphia, p.623-4