Does echocardiography facilitate determination of hemodynamic significance attributable to the ductus arteriosus?
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The assignment of hemodynamic significance to a patent ductus remains a challenge for neonatal intensivists. The impact is medical uncertainty and ongoing debate as to when treatment should be provided if ever.
Patent ductus arteriosus is associated with significant neonatal morbidities including necrotizing enterocolitis and brain injury; causality has not been proven. In addition, there are limited data suggesting a beneficial effect of therapeutic intervention. The inability to accurately differentiate the pathological ductus arteriosus from the innocent ductus arteriosus may contribute, in part, to the lack of scientific evidence of benefit or causality. Our group has previously proposed the need for a staging system to characterize the clinical and echocardiography impact of the ductus arteriosus. This approach requires comprehensive echocardiography evaluation to assess ductal size and the degree of pulmonary overcirculation/systemic hypoperfusion related to the transductal shunt.
In this review, we will highlight the evidence for echocardiography markers of hemodynamic significance and speculate as to how they may facilitate improved decision making in the neonatal intensive care unit.
KeywordsPatent ductus arteriosus Hemodynamic significance Prematurity Echocardiography
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