Ricker Polsdorfer, MD
Percutaneous balloon valvuloplasty is done to open a constricted heart valve with a balloon.
Any of the heart’s 4 valves can become damaged. It may happen because of conditions at birth or scarring from disease. A damaged valve can decrease the amount of blood that flows through it. This condition is called
stenosis. Low blood flow can lead to heart failure and death. The valve will need to be opened to restore full blood flow.
and congenital birth defects are 2 main causes of stenosis. It can also happen due to aging and calcium deposits.
Depending on the overall condition of the valve, relief of symptoms can be expected to last at least 2 years. Some people have relief of symptoms much longer.
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications such as:
Your risk of complications may be increased if you have blood clots in your heart or the anatomy of your heart is unusual.
You will have a thorough evaluation to determine your overall condition, the health of your heart, and the exact nature of your valve defect. The success of the procedure depends a great deal on the condition of the valve. This includes whether the valve is calcified, how thick it is, and how narrow the opening is. Many valves cannot be fixed with this technique. They will require open-heart surgery instead.
Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to 1 week before the procedure.
Only local anesthesia and, sometimes, mild sedation are used. Local anesthesia will numb the area. Sedation will help you relax.
You will be lying down in a special procedure room. There will be x-ray machines and surgical equipment. Depending on the valve that needs work, a blood vessel in your groin or arm will be prepared. A wire will be placed through your skin to the blood vessel. It will be passed through the blood vessel until it reaches the valve. Progress will be monitored by x-rays. A tube with a balloon tip will be threaded over the wire. A contrast material may be injected through the device. This will help to visualize the area and make sure the device is in the right place. When the balloon is in the valve, it will be inflated and deflated. The inflation may need to be repeated. The device will then be removed from the blood vessel.
You will likely need to lie still and flat on your back for a period of time. A pressure dressing may be placed over the puncture area.
Between 30 minutes and 2 hours
You may feel some minor discomfort when the balloon is inflated. Some people report a flushing sensation if contrast is injected.
Most people are kept overnight for observation. Your doctor may choose to keep you longer if complications arise.
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection such as:
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chances of infection such as:
Recovery time is minimal. There will be a bandage over the puncture site. You may be prescribed a blood thinner, like
aspirin. Certain strenuous activities will be limited. Other activities, like exercises and fluid intake, may be encouraged. Your doctor will want to see you several days to weeks later.
It is important for you to monitor your recovery after you leave the hospital. Alert your doctor to any problems right away. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Heart Association
The Society of Thoracic Surgeons
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
American Heart Association. Percutaneous balloon aortic valvuloplasty: acute and 30-day follow-up results in 674 patients from the NHLBI balloon valvuloplasty registry.
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Last reviewed September 2015 by Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC
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