Overview of balloon valvuloplasty
Balloon valvuloplasty or balloon valvotomy is a procedure to repair a heart valve with a narrow opening. In a narrow heart valve, the flaps of the valve become thicker or tighter and converge (stenosis). This reduces blood flow through the valve.
Valvuloplasty improves blood flow through the heart valve and improves your symptoms.
Once the catheter reaches the adjusted valve, your doctor inflates a large balloon at the tip of the catheter until the flaps (leaflets) of the valve open. After opening the valve, the doctor releases the balloon and removes the catheter.
To allow blood to flow forward as it travels through the heart, there are valves between each pumping chamber of the heart:
- Tricuspid valve. Located between the right atrium and the right ventricle
- Pulmonary (or pulmonary) valve. Located between the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery.
- The mitral valve. Located between the left atrium and the left ventricle.
- Aortic valve. Located between the left ventricle and the aorta.
What are the risks of balloon valvuloplasty?
Potential risks of valvuloplasty:
- Bleeding at the catheter insertion site.
- Blood clot or damage to the blood vessel at the insertion site.
- Significant blood loss that may require a blood transfusion.
- Infection at the catheter insertion site.
- Abnormal heart rhythms.
- Kidney failure.
Treatment for balloon valvotomy
Balloon valvotomy is a treatment for mitral valve stenosis. It is a process that dilates the mitral valve, allowing blood to flow more easily through the heart.
Balloon valvotomy is the least invasive procedure. A doctor uses a thin, flexible tube (catheter) that is inserted through an artery in the groin or arm and into the heart. When the tube reaches the narrow mitral valve, the balloon device at the tip of the catheter inflates rapidly. Narrow or fused mitral valve leaflets break off and open when the balloon is pressed against them. This process increases the size of the mitral valve opening and allows more blood to flow from the left atrium into the left ventricle.
How well it works
Balloon valvuloplasty does not cure the condition or normalize the valve. Helps valve function to allow blood to flow through the heart. Improved blood flow relieves symptoms. It lowers the blood pressure within the left atrium, which also helps eliminate the symptoms of pulmonary congestion.
Doctors and hospitals with a lot of experience performing balloon valvotomy have a high success rate.
What to expect during a balloon valvuloplasty?
You will be awake, but you will receive local anaesthesia and pain relievers near the procedure site along with sedatives to help you relax.
During the procedure, a tube or catheter is inserted through an artery in your arm or leg and a balloon is placed at the end. When the tube reaches the narrowed heart valve, the balloon inflates and widens the valve opening. You are expected to stay in the hospital overnight before returning home.
Risks during the procedure aren’t common. Serious complications might happen in 1 to 12 people out of 100. Death from the procedure might happen in 1 to 3 people out of 100. Doctors and hospitals that have a lot of experience doing balloon valvotomy tend to have lower complication rates.
After the procedure
Complications after balloon valvuloplasty:
- Mitral valve regurgitation. It can occur in 2 to 10 out of 100 people. The valve in footnote 2 can be damaged, so it does not close normally and blood returns to the heart.
- Restenosis The valve narrows again. You may need valve replacement surgery.
If your valve narrows again, treatment depends on the condition of the valve. You may have another balloon valvotomy or valve replacement surgery. Symptoms of mitral valve stenosis usually improve immediately after a balloon valvotomy.
Expected results of balloon valvuloplasty
- More energy, less fatigue.
- An increase in respiratory capacity.
- Reduction of pain or swelling in the lower legs and feet.
- Aortic stenosis
- Mitral valve stenosis