Main content

    Health Information

    Congenital Heart Defects: Prostaglandins and Prostaglandin Inhibitors

    Congenital Heart Defects: Prostaglandins and Prostaglandin Inhibitors

    Topic Overview

    Normally, a blood vessel needed only for fetal blood circulation (called the ductus arteriosus) closes off at birth. During fetal development, this blood vessel is kept open by a naturally occurring substance in the fetus's body called prostaglandin. At birth, fetal production of prostaglandin decreases and the ductus arteriosus closes.

    In some premature infants, this blood vessel does not close. This is a condition called a patent (open) ductus arteriosus . These premature infants are given a prostaglandin inhibitor, a medicine to stimulate the closure of this blood vessel.

    When an infant has certain other congenital heart defects , a medicine (a form of prostaglandin ) is often given by vein to keep the ductus arteriosus open. Keeping this blood vessel open allows the blood to continue circulating until surgery or another procedure can be done to correct the related defect and allow normal blood flow.

    Related Information

    Credits

    By Healthwise Staff
    John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
    Larry A. Latson, MD - Pediatric Cardiology
    Last Revised September 6, 2013

    Last Revised: September 6, 2013

    This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

    1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.