Wednesday, August 11, 2010

PDA...what in the heck is it?!

In my last post, I talked a bit about the drugs that the doctors will give to Joshua to help keep a valve in his heart open until surgery. I will be honest in saying that the information that I gave you regarding the PDA was simply recited from my memory to my blog with little understanding of what it all means. I'm so new to this heart world, and I'm slowly learning the anatomy (which is quite confusing) of the heart as well as how the heart functions.

Thankfully, I have made a very good blog friend named Steve. He is an adult CHD (congenital heart defect) survivor. He has been a wealth of knowledge and support for both Shane and myself. He has also connected us with quite a few other heart families. Steve seems to be an all around great guy with some pretty interesting stuff on his blog.

After my last post, Steve sent me an email with some information about the PDA. I have copied and pasted (with permission of course) his email. I hope you find it as informative as I did.


No, PDA means Public Display of Affection, doesn't it? :)

Seriously, everyone is naturally born with TWO heart defects... the PDA stands for Patent Ductus Arteriosus, which is a small blood vessel connecting the Pulmonary Artery and the Aorta. The other birth
defect is a PFO, a Patent Foramen Ovale. It is a tiny hole in the wall between the upper chambers of the heart (Left Atrium and Right Atrium). Imagine a fence with a gate in it, that's the PFO.
These two defects work together to allow your heart and lungs to work while in the womb. When you are born, the PDA - for lack of a better term - "rots away" and the PFO closes. Someone comes by and locks the gate, so to speak. This takes about two days but can take as many as ten. But if you have a heart defect, blood can still go through the PDA and get around the problem. So they are going to give Joshua a drug to *keep that PDA open* until surgery.

To be technically correct, "Patent" is a medical term meaning "stuck open." So they are going to force the PDA to stay that way and not turn into a normal Ductus Arteriosus."

It is important for the PDA to stay open until Joshua's surgery so the blood can flow properly from his heart to his lungs and body.

Get it?!


kirsten michelle said...

Uh ... yeah!! What he said. I remembered "PDA" and I remembered that it was supposed to close after birth, but Steve said it much, much better. :o)

Anonymous said...

Jill, don't worry. Before too long, you too, will become used to throwing around words such as pulseox, ASD, VSD and a host of others. It is like a alphabet soup at times, but you will become a expert - not because you want to but because you have to. This wonderful, crazy and often confusing world of "heart parents" is a badge of honor that I wear proudly and I hope you will too! Although our children have different CHD's if you need to vent - and trust me I have been there! - you can contact me at Remember you are not alone. Listen to your heart to guide you and trust your instincts. Remember Joshua is their patient but he is YOUR child. I questioned every drug, every procedure, every new doctor that walked into the room.

Praying that everything goes as planned on the "big day" and hopefully soon you will have your precious child wrapped in your arms....where he belongs.

Shannon Egan
cp: McKenzieLayneEgan

Carolina Carters said...

Steve always has such a great way of explaining all of the heart stuff! I agree with Shannon, you'll be throwing all of these terms (and acronyms) around like they're nothing before long. It will all become second nature. Maybe not what you dreamed of as what your second nature, but hey, welcome to the heart world! :) You'll like it here.

The Cox Family said...

Good explanation! I've taken care of a HLHS baby that was on subambient oxygen in addition to PGE (prostaglandins) to keep his PDA open. The air we breathe has 21% oxygen (you are going to learn so much!) so subambient oxygen means that you give less than 21%. We sometimes do this because oxygen causes the PDA to close. That is part of the process after birth while the baby shifts from the circulation used in the womb to the our "normal" circulation. In Joshua's case, because the left side of his heart is unable to pump the blood to his body like it should, we need the PDA to remain open so that his body can be oxygenated. In a "normal" NICU baby we like to keep their pulse ox/sats (the amount of oxygen in their blood) 85-95% if they are on extra oxygen. Normal would be 95-100% for adults or babies not on oxygen. In heart babies it's ok to keep their sats low. (less than 85%) When the baby is in your uterus it is in an environment that requires less oxygen so this is ok in newborns and does not cause damage. If it were you or me it would be a bad thing! Plus, if they let their sats jump up to 100% it can cause the PDA to close. Ok, I guess I'll stop now. I'm probably overwhelming you with information! Anyway - if you ever need another explanation of anything, just ask. ;-) Man, I love my job and now I'm missing downtown with my babies!

Kristine said...

Steve is the man. He keeps us all up to date with CHD stuff. Thinking about you guys! <3

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