What is it?
Balloon valvuloplasty is a minimally invasive surgical procedure performed to open a narrowed (stenotic) heart valve. This procedure is also known as percutaneous balloon valvuloplasty.
It can be used to treat aortic, mitral and pulmonary stenosis, all of which contribute to blood flow restriction. In most patients who have pulmonic or mitral stenosis and in some patients who have aortic stenosis, balloon valvuloplasty is a preferred alternative to open heart surgery.
The goal of balloon valvuloplasty is to improve valve function and blood flow by widening the valve opening. It also may be performed to delay or avert open heart surgery and valve replacement when those procedures are considered too risky. It can be used in both children and adults who have heart valve stenosis that has not responded to nonsurgical treatment.
During balloon valvuloplasty, surgeons stretch the narrowed or stenotic heart valve open to allow blood to flow more easily through the heart. At the beginning of the procedure, surgeons use imaging technology, including an echocardiogram and X-ray images, to help guide a deflated balloon into the narrowed opening of the diseased valve. The balloon is attached to a catheter (narrow tube), which is threaded through a blood vessel (usually the femoral artery) to the diseased valve. Once the balloon is positioned in the valve opening, the surgeon will inflate and deflate the balloon repeatedly. This widens the opening of the valve by splitting the valve leaflets apart, which helps increase blood flow.
Once the valve has been sufficiently widened, the surgeons will remove the catheter and the balloon. In certain cases, the procedure will have to be repeated to achieve sufficient widening.