Association of Patent Ductus Arteriosus Ligation With Death or Neurodevelopmental Impairment Among Extremely Preterm Infants

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Observational studies have associated patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) ligation among preterm infants with adverse neonatal outcomes and neurodevelopmental impairment in early childhood, with a resultant secular trend away from surgical treatment. However, to our knowledge, studies have inadequately addressed sources of residual bias, including survival bias and major neonatal morbidities arising before exposure to ligation.


Evaluate the association between PDA ligation vs medical management and neonatal and neurodevelopmental outcomes.

Design, Setting, and Participants

This retrospective cohort study of preterm infants younger than 28 weeks gestational age born between January 1, 2006, and December 31, 2012, with clinical and echocardiography diagnoses of hemodynamically significant PDA was conducted at 3 tertiary neonatal intensive care units and affiliated follow-up programs.


Surgical ligation vs medical management.

Main Outcomes and Measures

The primary outcome was a composite of death or neurodevelopmental impairment (NDI) at 18 to 24 months corrected age. Secondary outcomes included death before discharge, NDI, moderate-severe chronic lung disease, and severe retinopathy of prematurity. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was used to adjust for perinatal and postnatal confounders.


Of 754 infants with hemodynamically significant PDA (mean [standard deviation] gestational age 25.7 [1.2] weeks and birth weight 813 [183] grams), 184 (24%) underwent ligation. Infants who underwent ligation had a higher frequency of morbidities before PDA closure, including sepsis, necrotizing enterocolitis, and a dependence on mechanical ventilation. After adjusting for perinatal characteristics and preligation morbidities, there was no difference in the odds of death or NDI (adjusted odds ratio (aOR), 0.83; 95% CI, 0.52-1.32), NDI (aOR, 1.27; 95% CI, 0.78-2.06), chronic lung disease (aOR, 1.36; 95% CI, 0.78-2.39) or severe retinopathy of prematurity (aOR, 1.61; 95% CI, 0.85-3.06). Ligation was associated with lower odds of mortality (aOR, 0.09; 95% CI, 0.04-0.21).

Conclusions and Relevance

Patent ductus arteriosus ligation among preterm neonates younger than 28 weeks gestational age was not associated with the composite outcome of death or NDI, and there were no differences in chronic lung disease, retinopathy of prematurity, or NDI among survivors. Mortality was lower among infants who underwent ligation, though residual survival bias could not be excluded. Previously reported associations of ligation with increased morbidity may be because of bias from confounding by indication.

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