A valvuloplasty, also known as balloon valvuloplasty or balloon valvotomy, is a procedure to repair a heart valve that has a narrowed opening.
In this valve condition, the valve flaps (leaflets) may become thick or stiff, and they may fuse together (stenosis). This causes the valve opening to be narrowed and results in reduced blood flow through the valve.
A valvuloplasty may improve blood flow through the valve and improve your symptoms.
Why it's done
Doctors may evaluate you and determine if valvuloplasty or another treatment is appropriate for your valve condition.
If you have severe valve stenosis and you're experiencing symptoms, your doctor may recommend valvuloplasty. Your doctor may recommend valvuloplasty to repair a mitral valve with a narrowed opening (mitral valve stenosis) even if you don't have symptoms.
Your doctor may also recommend valvuloplasty if you have a narrowed aortic valve (aortic valve stenosis). The procedure can treat aortic valve stenosis in infants and children. However, the valve tends to narrow again in adults who've had the procedure so it's usually performed only in adults who are too ill for surgery or who are waiting for a valve replacement.
This procedure can also be performed to treat narrowed tricuspid or pulmonary valves.
What you can expect
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 and guides it to the narrowed valve in the heart using X-ray imaging. A doctor then inflates the balloon, which expands the opening of the valve and separates the leaflets. The balloon is then deflated, and the catheter and balloon are removed.
You'll generally be awake during the procedure. After the procedure, you'll usually stay in the hospital overnight.
This procedure may improve blood flow through your heart and lessen your symptoms. However, your valve may narrow again, and you may need to have valvuloplasty performed again in the future. You might need other procedures, such as valve repair or valve replacement, in the future.