Key Points about Balloon Valvotomy
- During a balloon valvotomy procedure, your cardiologist opens up heart valves that are narrowed.
- A balloon valvotomy is performed on the tricuspid, mitral, aortic or pulmonary valves depending upon your needs.
- The procedure takes place within a hospital and usually requires an overnight stay for monitoring
A balloon valvotomy for heart valve repair can improve blood flow in areas where valves have become narrowed.
Candidates for a balloon valvotomy
Your cardiologist may recommend a balloon valvotomy if you:
- Are older, have aortic valve stenosis and cannot undergo open-heart surgery
- Have mitral valve stenosis (narrowing) with complications
- Have pulmonic (lung) valve stenosis
Preparing for a balloon valvotomy
To make sure you are healthy enough to undergo a balloon valvotomy procedure, you will undergo pre-operative testing. This can include a chest X-ray, electrocardiogram (EKG) and echocardiogram (ECG).
You may need to stop taking certain medications – such as blood thinners – for a period of time before your balloon valvotomy. Your doctor will advise you.
You will most likely not be able to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day before your procedure. Your heart care team will provide you with specific instructions on pre and post procedure activities.
Expectations during a balloon valvotomy
You will undergo atherectomy in the hospital, and you will be under sedation to help you relax. Local anesthesia is given to numb the area where your surgeon makes an incision for the procedure.
Your surgeon begins by making a small incision in an artery – typically in your groin or upper thigh area. Your surgeon inserts a catheter (thin, flexible tube) into the incision and threads it through your blood vessels and into your heart. Once the catheter has reached your narrowed valve, your surgeon will inflate and deflate the tiny balloon on the end of the catheter several times to help dilate (open up) the valve. Your surgeon then removes the catheter and closes the incision with a bandage. The procedure typically only takes about an hour.
Recovery after a balloon valvotomy
You can expect to remain in recovery for a few hours while the effects of anesthesia and sedation wear off. You will be closely monitored. Most people will spend one night in the hospital following balloon valvotomy. Your care team will provide you with specific aftercare instructions. Most people can resume their normal activities within a week or so.
When to seek care
If you think you may need to undergo balloon valvotomy, start by voicing your concerns and symptoms to your primary care provider. From there, your doctor may suggest seeing a cardiologist for more specialized treatment.