Patent ductus arteriosus is a condition in which a blood vessel called the ductus arteriosus fails to close properly in an infant shortly after birth. Before a baby is born, the ductus arteriosus allows blood to bypass the baby’s lungs by connecting the pulmonary arteries, which supply blood to the lungs, with the aorta, which supplies blood to the body. After birth, the lungs fill with air and the blood vessel is no longer needed, at which point it will close on its own. If this natural process fails to take place, there will be abnormal blood circulation between the heart and lungs, which can have severe consequences for affected children. Patent ductus arteriosus is most common in premature infants and those suffering from neonatal respiratory distress syndrome. If your child has suffered from patent ductus arteriosus, and you believe the condition to be caused by a medical mistake, consult an experienced birth defect attorney to discuss your options for legal recourse.
Children with a small patent ductus arteriosus may not exhibit any symptoms, although most instances of this malformation cause serious symptoms like:
Babies with patent ductus arteriosus often have a characteristic heart murmur that can be easily heard with a stethoscope. In premature infants however, a heart murmur may not be present, in which case the condition may be diagnosed if the infant has breathing or feeding problems soon after birth.
The main goal of patent ductus arteriosus treatment is to close the defect, as long as the rest of the child’s circulation is normal or close to normal. In some cases, a patent ductus arteriosus may close on its own, which is most common in premature babies within the first two years of life. If the malformation doesn’t close on its own however, a transcatheter device closure may be required, or surgery if the catheter procedure is ineffective or can’t be used. There are a number of complications associated with the birth defect, patent ductus arteriosus, some of which may actually be the result of undergoing surgery to repair the malformation. If the patent ductus arteriosus is not closed, the infant may be at risk of developing life-threatening side effects like heart failure, pulmonary artery hypertension, or infective endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart.
The ductus arteriosus is a vital part of fetal blood circulation; the failure of this blood vessel to close properly allows oxygen-rich blood from the aorta to mix with oxygen-poor blood from the pulmonary artery. This can cause significant strain on the heart and can increase blood pressure in the lung arteries. If you or a loved one has suffered from patent ductus arteriosus, which you believe to be the result of a medical error, contact an experienced birth defect attorney for legal help. You may have grounds to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the allegedly negligent hospital, doctor or Ob/Gyn responsible for your care, in order to pursue financial compensation for your injuries, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. You should not be held accountable for any injuries caused by the alleged inadequate training or negligence of a healthcare professional. With the help of a qualified birth defect lawyer, you can collect the compensation you deserve and protect yourself and your family from further harm.