For select patients with aortic stenosis and for most patients with pulmonary valve stenosis or mitral stenosis – conditions in which the opening of the valve is narrowed (stenotic) and restricts blood flow – balloon valvuloplasty is a preferred alternative to open-heart surgery. With balloon valvuloplasty, the narrowed heart valve is stretched open.
With balloon valvuloplasty doctors create a small incision in the skin and insert a catheter into an artery or vein in the leg using a local anesthetic and conscious sedation (relaxing medications). The catheter, which contains a balloon on its tip, is then advanced into the heart and across the narrowed valve. When in place, the balloon is expanded to open the valve, resulting in improved blood flow across the diseased valve.
While individual circumstances vary, patients may be discharged as soon as the following day.