Archive Of Standardized Exam Questions: Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)


This page is dedicated to organizing various examples of standardized exam questions whose answer is patent ductus arteriosus (PDA). While this may seem a odd practice, it is useful to see multiple examples of how a PDA will be characterized on standardized exams (namely the boards and the shelf exams). This page is not meant to be used as a traditional question bank (as all of the answers will be the same), however seeing the classic “test” characterization for a disease is quite valuable.


When it comes to standardized exams, each topic has its own “code” marked by key buzzwords, lab findings, clues, etc. If you are well versed in this code you will be able to more quickly identify the condition that is being discussed, and get the right answer on the exam you are taking. Below is the “code” for patent ductus arteriosus (PDA)

  • Classic murmur with the following characteristics:
    • Heard best at left infraclavicular region
    • Continuous murmur: can be described as “machine-like”
    • Loudest at S2
  • Wide pulse pressures and bounding pulses may be present. 

Question # 1

A 6 month old baby girl is seen in the clinic for a routine visit. She has been growing well and has received all of her immunizations. The mother of the child has no medical concerns or complaints. A physical exam reveals a continuous machine-like murmur at the left sternal border. The child is not cyanotic, and the distal pulses are easily palpated. What is the likely cause of this murmur? 

Explanation # 1

Machine-like murmur = PDA

Question # 2

Explanation # 2


Many questions on standardized exams go beyond simply recognizing the underlying topic. Often there are specific testable facts regarding some aspect of the topic’s pathophysiology/management/clinical implications that are commonly asked. Some of these are listed below:

  • Cause: PDA remains patent due to prostaglandin E2 production by the placenta. 
  • Treatment: Prostaglandin E2 inhibitors (such as indomethacin or ibuprofen)


Page Updated: 03.12.2017