Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) treatment is common among very low birth weight (VLBW) infants. Given limitations in evidence, controversy exists regarding treatment risks and benefits. In this study, we describe PDA treatment trends and variation in a large, US, multicenter VLBW infant cohort.
Data were collected through Vermont Oxford Network on 291 292 VLBW infants born 2012–2019 at 806 US NICUs. PDA diagnosis and treatment rates, further categorized as pharmacologic, invasive, or combined, were determined. NICUs were classified as capable versus noncapable of invasive PDA treatment. Infant and hospital characteristics were examined by NICU type and treatment quartile. Geographic NICU distribution and treatment rates were described in 9 US census divisions.
Of all infants, 24.6% were diagnosed with and 20.5% were treated for PDA. Diagnosis and treatment rates decreased over the study period. Treatment was predominantly pharmacologic. Treatment rates varied widely among NICUs (0% to 67%) despite similar infant characteristics. The median treatment rate was higher at NICUs capable of pharmacologic and invasive treatment (20.3%, interquartile range 13.3–28.6) than at NICUs capable of only pharmacologic treatment (8.9%, interquartile range 2.9–14.8). Treatment rates were highest in the northeast and lowest in the west. Invasive treatment was more common in the west.
PDA diagnosis and treatment rates are trending downward. Wide variation exists in PDA treatment despite a largely uniform VLBW infant population. This variation correlates with differences in hospital treatment capabilities and geography. Further understanding of the effects of treatment disparity could aid in guiding clinical management.