A valvuloplasty is a procedure to repair a heart valve that has a narrowed opening.

There are four heart valves — the aortic, mitral, tricuspid and pulmonary valves which open and close to let blood flow through the heart. In a narrowed heart valve (stenosis), the valve flaps (leaflets) may become thick or stiff and fuse together. Valve stenosis reduces blood flow through the valve.

This procedure is designed to improve blood flow through the heart valve. It may also improve symptoms of heart valve disease, such as shortness of breath or chest pain.

Valvuloplasty has a number of different names which can include:

  • Balloon valvuloplasty
  • Balloon valvotomy
  • Percutaneous balloon valvuloplasty

Why is a valvuloplasty done?

A patient would undergo this procedure to repair a narrowed heart valve (valve stenosis). It may be done to treat:

  • Aortic valve stenosis
  • Mitral valve stenosis
  • Pulmonary valve stenosis (pulmonic stenosis)
  • Tricuspid valve stenosis

If these are left untreated, some types of heart valve stenosis can lead to complications, including irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias) and heart failure.

You and your consultant will discuss in detail whether valvuloplasty or a different treatment would be right for your specific type and stage of heart valve disease. This procedure may be recommended if you have severe valve narrowing that’s causing symptoms. Some patients with heart valve disease need valvuloplasty even if the condition isn’t severe or when it’s not causing symptoms.

How is a valvuloplasty performed?

This procedure is done in the hospital, usually while you’re awake. A sedative may be used to help you relax if required.

Valvuloplasty is done during a procedure called cardiac catheterisation. Your cardiologist inserts a soft, thin tube (catheter) tipped with a balloon into a blood vessel, usually in the groin. The catheter is carefully guided to the narrowed valve in the heart. Once in position, the balloon is inflated to widen the valve, improving blood flow. The balloon is then deflated, and the catheter with balloon is removed.

After the procedure, an overnight hospital stay is usually required. Regular health checkups and imaging tests of the heart are needed after valvuloplasty to make sure the heart valve is working properly.

This procedure may improve blood flow through the heart and reduce symptoms. However, the valve may narrow again. You may need to have another valvuloplasty or other heart procedure, such as valve repair or replacement, in the future.

Contact the team at LC&VA if you have any questions or wish to book an appointment.