Balloon valvuloplasty is done to treat aortic, mitral or pulmonary valve stenosis. Stenosis of the valve means the valve has become narrowed due to calcium build up on the leaflets of the valve and is not able to open and close as it should. The procedure uses a small balloon that is inserted into the valve and inflated to stretch open the narrowed heart valve. This allows the blood to flow through the valve better.
Who is a candidate?
Patients who have aortic, mitral or pulmonary valve stenosis are older, at high risk or too sick to have valve replacement surgery and are very symptomatic from the stenosed valve may be candidates for a balloon valvuloplasty. Balloon valvuloplasty is sometimes used as a bridge to transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) surgery as well. The valvuloplasty reduces the stenosis which makes the patient feel better while they wait to have TAVR done.
The patient is brought to the catheterization lab and is given a mild sedative to relax during the procedure. The groin area is shaved and cleansed with an anti-septic so the interventional cardiologist can make an incision into the artery where the catheter needs to go. The skin is numbed with anesthetic and a sheath (like an IV) is placed in the artery. Through the sheath a catheter with the balloon is passed through the aorta to the appropriate valve. The heart is paced at a fast rate to allow for the balloon to inflate and stretch open the valve. Once the valve is opened up, the catheters are removed and a plug is placed in the incision of the artery. The patient is then taken to the Heart & Vascular Institute where they stay for 24-48 hours to recover.
Balloon Valvuloplasty Risks
- Distortion of the shape of the valve which could result in leaking or regurgitation of the valve
- Embolism or a small blood clot or piece of calcium that could lead to a stroke or heart attack
- Irregular heartbeats (arrhythmia)
- Hematoma or pooling of blood in the groin area
- Puncture through the heart
After the initial period of bed rest, the patient should be able to walk and do their normal activities. We advise not to lift more than 10 lbs for a few days to let the groin incision heal. Breathing should improve and hopefully the patient has more energy than before the procedure. This is not a permanent fix. If the patient notices they are getting more short of breath, have more swelling in the feet and legs and start to feel more tired, they should notify their cardiologist as it may be time to perform TAVR or surgical valve replacement.