Balloon Valvuloplasty

Balloon valvuloplasty (also called valvulotomy or valvotomy) is a procedure that widens a heart valve that is narrowed. The cause of this narrowing in the aortic valve is aortic valve stenosis

What To Expect After Treatment

You will likely stay overnight in the hospital after a valvuloplasty. You will be checked for any problems after the procedure, such as bleeding from the site where the catheter was inserted.

Why It Is Done

Balloon valvuloplasty is not an option for most people who have aortic valve stenosis.

Children, teens, and young adults

Balloon valvuloplasty might be used in some children, teens, and young adults in their 20s who have aortic valve stenosis. This group typically has aortic valve stenosis because of a congenital heart defect such as a bicuspid aortic valve

Pregnant women

Valvuloplasty may be used for pregnant women who get aortic valve stenosis symptoms during their pregnancy. After the woman delivers, she may then have aortic valve replacement surgery.

Older adults

Valvuloplasty is not appropriate for most older people who have stenosis.

But this procedure might be done in older people who cannot have valve replacement surgery. A person might not be able to have their heart valve replaced if their valve is severely calcified (very hard), they are very ill, or when open-heart surgery would be too great a risk.

Also, valvuloplasty can be used as a "bridge" until surgery can be done for a person who is too sick to have open-heart surgery right away.

How Well It Works

Balloon valvuloplasty is generally an effective treatment for aortic valve stenosis in children, teens, and young adults but has very limited effectiveness in older adults. In most older adults, the valve becomes narrowed again (restenosis) within 6 to 12 months after this procedure.

Balloon valvuloplasty works better in younger people because of the difference in the causes of aortic valve stenosis in younger and older people. Young people typically have the condition because they were born with a bicuspid valve, which is an aortic valve that has two leaflets instead of three. But older people typically get stenosis over many years through a gradual hardening and buildup of calcium on their valves. This is a process called aortic sclerosis, which is similar to atherosclerosis, the buildup of hard plaque inside the arteries.

After a valvotomy procedure in a young person, the aortic valve is wider, but it is still not normal. After 10 to 20 years, the valve might get narrow again, and he or she might need a valve replacement surgery.