Valvuloplasty is a non-surgical heart procedure that inserts a special balloon into a narrowed valve and inflates it to stretch and enlarge the hardened valve. It is a non-invasive procedure for people who suffer from mitral stenosis and aortic stenosis.
Valvuloplasty the treatment of choice for patients with mitral stenosis and valve structures suitable for the valvuloplasty procedure.
Valvuloplasty can be performed in patients with severe aortic stenosis that has resulted in severe heart failure or, in some cases, shock. It can allow aortic stenosis patients to recover from severe heart failure so other procedures can be performed.
Patients born with narrowed pulmonic valves who develop symptoms later in life – typically, shortness of breath on exertion – may be candidates for a percutaneous pulmonic valvuloplasty described below.
The benefits of valvuloplasty for those suffering from mitral stenosis and aortic stenosis include:
Valvuloplasty may delay surgery in mitral valve stenosis patients for 8 to 10 years. Balloon valvuloplasty has a shorter recovery time than surgery, and for some patients it may produce outcomes comparable to surgical repair or replacement of the valve.
Typically, a 30% reduction in severity of aortic stenosis can be achieved, which is enough to allow the heart to recover from severe heart failure. This can also allow major non-heart surgeries to be performed in patients who are not candidates for valve replacement surgery, and subsequent valve replacement surgery to be performed more safely after the heart has recovered from severe failure.
Unfortunately, in many patients the valve tends to narrow again over the course of approximately 6 months, which means that aortic valvuloplasty cannot be considered a permanent solution for patients with severe aortic stenosis.
During valvuloplasty, a balloon-tipped tube is threaded through a blood vessel and into the faulty valve in the heart. The balloon is inflated to widen the opening of the valve, then deflated and removed along with the tube.
An innovative use of valvuloplasty – inserting a special balloon into a narrowed mitral valve – may also delay surgery in mitral valve stenosis patients for 8 to 10 years.
Patients born with narrowed pulmonic valves who develop symptoms later in life may be candidates for percutaneous pulmonic valvuloplasty.
In this case, a balloon-tipped catheter is threaded through the right atrium, tricuspid valve and right ventricle into the pulmonic valve, and then is carefully inflated, opening the valve area.
Care must be taken to ensure that the area in the right ventricle beneath the tricuspid valve is not narrowed as well, as this can be hazardous for the valvuloplasty procedure.