A balloon valvuloplasty is a surgical procedure used to correct pulmonary valve stenosis. Pulmonary valve stenosis is a condition that slows the blood flow from the heart to the lungs as a result of narrowed heart valves. Stenosis, or narrowing, occurs when the valve cannot open wide enough and results in less blood flow to the lungs. An alternative to open heart surgery, balloon valvuloplasty relieves the valve obstruction and allows blood to flow properly through the valve. Many cases of pulmonary valve stenosis are mild and do not cause symptoms. However when the condition is severe, symptoms may be serious and treatment is necessary.
The Balloon Valvuloplasty Procedure
The balloon valvuloplasty procedure is performed while the patient is sedated under anesthesia. During the procedure, a catheter is inserted into a blood vessel in the groin and directed to the damaged heart valve. X-rays that show images on a monitor, are used to help guide the catheter. A balloon attached to the end of catheter is then inflated. The balloon stretches the valve open and widens the valve opening. The catheter and balloon are then removed. A patient may stay in the hospital for monitoring for 1 to 2 days after a balloon valvuloplasty. While a balloon valvuloplasty is considered a safe procedure, risks may include bleeding, infection or soreness at the insertion site.
Results of Balloon Valvuloplasty
Most patients experience relief of symptoms after this procedure. However, improvement is often temporary, as most valves will constrict and narrow again after 1 to 2 years time. Therefore, balloon valvuloplasty is useful as a short-term measure to temporarily relieve symptoms in patients who are not candidates for open heart surgery or aortic valve replacement.