Balloon valvuloplasty, also called percutaneous balloon valvuloplasty, is a surgical procedure that opens a narrowed heart valve, without need for open heart surgery. It’s also sometimes referred to as balloon enlargement of a narrowed heart valve.

Balloon valvuloplasty is performed on patients who have a narrowed heart valve, a condition called stenosis. It is used primarily to treat pulmonary valve stenosis or mitral valve stenosis when other medical treatment has not corrected or relieved the related problems. Learn more about interventional cardiology services at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center.

What to expect during a balloon valvuloplasty

Preparing for your procedure

Prior to balloon valvuloplasty, you’ll meet with your physician to discuss your medical history, medications you take and any questions you have. Avoid eating or drinking for at least six hours before the procedure.

During your procedure

An intravenous line is inserted so medications can be given. These medications may include anticoagulants to prevent clot formation and radioactive dye for X-rays. Your groin area is shaved and cleaned with an antiseptic. You are given an oral sedative medication about an hour before surgery to help you relax. 

A cardiologist uses echocardiography and X-ray images to guide a balloon into the narrowed opening of the mitral valve. The deflated balloon is positioned in the valve opening and inflated repeatedly. The inflated balloon widens the valve's opening by splitting the valve leaflets apart, thereby reducing the obstruction to blood flow. Once the valve is widened, the balloon-tipped catheter is removed.

After your procedure

After your procedure, you spend several hours in the recovery room. Your vital signs, such as heart rate, breathing and heart sounds are monitored. Electrical leads attached to electrocardiogram equipment are placed on your chest and limbs so your health care team can monitor your status.

The site where the catheter was inserted is observed for bleeding until the catheter is removed. The leg in which the catheter was inserted is temporarily prevented from moving.

Intravenous fluids are given to help eliminate the X-ray dye. In addition, pain medication is available if needed. Your physician will determine how long you need to keep taking anticoagulant medications based on your particular symptoms and treatment.

After discharge from the hospital, you can usually resume normal activities. A balloon valvuloplasty requires lifelong follow-up with your physician because valves can degenerate and narrowing can recur (restenosis). An echocardiogram may be performed to assess the results of the procedure.

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