Alprostadil (PGE1) for Maintaining Ductal Patency

Marcia L. Buck, Pharm.D., FCCP

Pediatr Pharm. 2000;6(9) 

In This Article


Alprostadil, or prostaglandin E1 (PGE1), can be a lifesaving drug for infants born with ductus-dependent congenital heart disease. Therapy with PGE1 can effectively maintain an infant's cardiovascular function until palliative or corrective cardiac surgery can be performed. In many cases, this allows transport of the patient from the local institution to a tertiary care center capable of performing neonatal cardiac surgery.

It has been recommended that early medical stabilization of these infants with PGE1 be initiated at the local hospital immediately after establishing a preliminary diagnosis and continued during transport.[1,2,3,4,5,6] For this to be accomplished, it is necessary to have the drug available at most hospitals offering obstetric services. Because of the infrequent need for PGE1 at the local level, this issue of Pediatric Pharmacotherapy is provided as a staff resource. This article will review the role of PGE1 in maintaining systemic oxygenation, describe commonly encountered adverse effects, and provide dosing recommendations.