What is PDA Ligation?

When a dog is suffering from PDA, or patent ductus arteriosus, they will need to undergo PDA ligation.  PDA ligation is the only course of treatment for this condition and involves a surgical procedure on the structure of your dog’s heart to correct a potentially fatal birth defect.  Only qualified canine heart surgical specialists should perform this procedure.  PDA ligation can be performed on puppies as young as eight weeks of age and should, ideally, be performed between eight and 16 weeks of age for best chance of recovery.  If this condition is not corrected through PDA ligation, most dogs will weaken and die within several months.

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PDA Ligation Procedure in Dogs

To prepare for PDA ligation, you will need to withhold food or water from your puppy for the period of time recommended by your veterinarian.  This is due to the potential for aspiration pneumonia that may occur when a dog undergoes anesthesia.  Your vet will also want to perform a pre-surgical bloodwork panel in order to confirm the puppy is healthy and isn’t suffering any underlying conditions.  Your dog will need to be admitted to the veterinary hospital, where they will need to stay for several days post-surgery in order to recover.  

Your puppy will need to be unconscious during the procedure and will be administered anesthesia in a dose appropriate for their body weight.  During the procedure, the surgical specialist will make a careful incision to obtain access to the heart cavity.  The first and most traditional method for ligation is for the surgeon to carefully tie off with sutures, and then remove the inappropriate duct.  A secondary, and more modern, method involves placing a metal coil within the duct which blocks blood flow.  Depending on your puppy’s size and condition prior to surgery, the coil method may not be an option.

Efficacy of PDA Ligation in Dogs

The efficacy, or effectiveness, of a PDA Ligation procedure in your puppy will largely depend on your pet’s condition prior to the surgery.  Generally, the earlier your dog receives the surgery the better the prognosis.  For puppies in good condition that are treated early, the prognosis is excellent.  Successful PDA ligation resolves the anomaly and your dog will go on to lead a long, healthy and happy life.

Alternatives to ligation include placement of various types of coils or similar structures into your dog’s heart via a catheter.  A catheter is a tube that is placed via a small surgical incision into a major artery in your dog’s body, typically the neck.  The coil is then threaded through the catheter, into the duct.  Not all dogs are candidates for this procedure and the effectiveness varies depending on condition, size and shape of the duct.

PDA Ligation Recovery in Dogs

Recovery after PDA ligation begins immediately when your dog wakes after anesthesia.  The stress from the excess blood flow is immediately decreased and your dog will have increased energy and visibly more color and vitality.  Your puppy will need to be kept quiet, calm and relaxed for several days after surgery.  Your veterinarian may administer low doses of tranquilizers or similar drugs in order to keep your puppy calm and allow the incision from surgery to heal.  Dogs will generally be released 24 to 48 hours after surgery and should be kept calm and quiet for up to a week after surgery.  Your puppy may be prescribed antibiotics to prevent infection at the surgical site.  Follow-up will be needed to ensure the incision is healing properly.  A follow-up ultrasound may also be used to look at the internal surgical repair.

Cost of PDA Ligation in Dogs

The cost of PDA ligation for your puppy will range between $2, 700 to $3,300.  This will include various scans and imaging before and after surgery such as echocardiogram and ultrasounds.  This cost also includes the anesthesia and surgical procedure itself, as well as post-operative medication and care.  As with any procedure involving anesthesia, costs may fluctuate depending on the size and weight of your pet.

Dog PDA Ligation Considerations

As with any surgical procedure, there is always the risk of death due to anesthesia or other unforeseen factors.  This is especially true when operating on structures located near the heart.  However, without PDA ligation the prognosis is always fatal.  Follow-up will be needed to determine the internal sutures are holding and that the incisions are fully closing and not allowing blood to flow inappropriately.  After a successful PDA ligation surgery, your dog will be completely cured and can go on to live a long and healthy life. 

PDA Ligation Prevention in Dogs

Given that PDA is a congenital defect, there are no known methods for preventing this condition.  There are some studies that suggest duct defects are an inherited condition and dogs that have undergone corrective surgery should be eliminated from the gene pool and not considered breeding candidates.  In addition, pregnant mothers should always be given adequate care and nutrition to reduce the possibility of any stress or trauma to the puppies in utero which, overall, can eliminate the occurrence of birth defects of all kinds.