A valvuloplasty, also known as balloon valvuloplasty or balloon valvotomy, is a procedure to repair a heart valve that has a narrowed opening.
In a narrowed heart valve, the valve flaps (leaflets) may become thick or stiff and fuse together (stenosis). This reduces blood flow through the valve.
A valvuloplasty may improve blood flow through the heart valve and improve your symptoms.
Why it's done
Doctors will examine you and determine if valvuloplasty or another treatment is right for your valve condition.
Your doctor may recommend valvuloplasty if:
- You have severe valve narrowing and are having symptoms
- You have narrowing of the mitral valve (mitral valve stenosis), even if you don't have symptoms
- You have a narrowed tricuspid or pulmonary valve
- You or your child has a narrowed aortic valve (aortic valve stenosis)
However, the aortic valve tends to narrow again in adults who've had a valvuloplasty, so the procedure is usually done if you are too sick for surgery or are waiting for a valve replacement.
What you can expect
In balloon valvuloplasty, a catheter is inserted in the heart and guided to the narrowed valve. The balloon is then inflated, which expands the opening of the valve.
In a valvuloplasty, a doctor inserts a long, thin tube (catheter) with a balloon on the tip into an artery in your arm or groin. X-rays are used to help guide the catheter to the narrowed valve in your heart. The doctor then inflates the balloon, which widens the opening of the valve and separates the valve flaps. The balloon is then deflated, and the catheter and balloon are removed.
You'll be awake but sedated during the procedure. After the procedure, you'll usually stay in the hospital overnight.
Valvuloplasty may improve blood flow through your heart and reduce your symptoms. However, the valve may narrow again. You may need to have another valvuloplasty or other heart procedure, such as valve repair or replacement, in the future.