The management of patent ductus arteriosus in Australia and New Zealand


Dr Adam B Hoellering, Staff Specialist, Centre for Newborn Care, Westmead Hospital, PO Box 533, Wentworthville, NSW 2145, Australia. Fax: +61 2 845 7490; email:


Aim:  This study aimed to establish current management practice for patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) among individual consultant neonatologists in Australia and New Zealand, to examine the influences that drives practice and highlight the importance of future randomised controlled trials in the region.

Methods:  Eligible subjects were identified from the Directory of Neonatal Intensive Care Units in Australia and New Zealand, 2007. A questionnaire was sent online to each consultant and was followed up with a letter and telephone call. Seven questions addressed management approach, the drug used and the treatment regimen, threshold for referral for surgical ligation and the literature influencing practice. Data were collected from 22 August 2007 to 22 November 2007.

Results:  The overall response rate was 95%. For infants ≤28 weeks or ≤1000 g, all consultants treat PDA by one of four distinct management approaches. Expectant management was favoured by 35%, echocardiographic targeted prophylaxis 32%, presymptomatic treatment 16% and prophylaxis by 17%. There were marked regional variations in practice. Within individual units, more than one approach is used in 14 out of 24 units. Long courses of indomethacin are used to treat PDA by 86%. For 22% of consultants, management is not influenced by published literature.

Conclusions:  Differences of opinion in the literature are reflected by the heterogeneity in clinical practice across regions and within units. Crucial questions undergoing evaluation are whether data extrapolated from a previous area are relevant to PDA in modern neonatology and whether targeting treatment early can translate to improved clinical outcome.