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A balloon valvotomy is a treatment for mitral valve stenosis. It is a procedure that widens the mitral valve so that blood flows more easily through the heart.
A balloon valvotomy is a minimally invasive procedure. A doctor uses a thin flexible tube (catheter) that is inserted through an artery in the groin or arm and threaded into the heart. When the tube reaches the narrowed mitral valve, a balloon device located on the tip of the catheter is quickly inflated. The narrowed or fused mitral valve leaflets are separated and stretched open as the balloon presses against them. This process increases the size of the mitral valve opening and allows more blood to flow from the left atrium into the left ventricle.
Symptoms of mitral valve stenosis typically improve right away after a balloon valvotomy.
Symptoms may happen again after a balloon valvotomy. Sometimes these symptoms are due to the mitral valve narrowing again (restenosis). Restenosis might happen 1 to 2 years after treatment. But symptoms can also be caused by other valve, heart, or lung problems, especially when they develop long after the valvotomy procedure.
If symptoms happen again after a valvotomy, tell your doctor. You will be asked about your symptoms and will probably have tests to check your heart valves.
A balloon valvotomy might be recommended if you have severe stenosis and the shape of your mitral valve looks like it can be repaired with a valvotomy. Your doctor will also check a few other things to see if a valvotomy is right for you. These things include your overall health and whether you have symptoms.
Balloon valvotomy is not a good option if you have blood clots in the left atrium, a lot of calcium buildup of the mitral valve, or moderate to severe mitral valve regurgitation.footnote 1
A balloon valvotomy doesn't cure the condition or make the valve normal. It helps the valve function normally to let blood flow through the heart. The improved blood flow relieves symptoms. Blood pressure inside the left atrium decreases, which also helps relieve symptoms of lung congestion.
Doctors and hospitals that have a lot of experience doing balloon valvotomies tend to have higher success rates.
Balloon valvotomy is catheter-based, not surgical, and has a lower risk of complications and death than an open-heart surgery such as a commissurotomy or valve replacement.
Risks during the procedure aren't common. Serious complications might happen in 1 to 12 people out of 100. Death from the procedure might happen in 1 to 3 people out of 100. Doctors and hospitals that have a lot of experience doing balloon valvotomies tend to have lower complication rates.footnote 2
Complications that happen after a valvotomy include:
If your valve has narrowed again, treatment will depend on the condition of the valve. You might have another balloon valvotomy, or you might have valve replacement surgery.
Deciding whether you need treatment for mitral valve stenosis-and if so, when-is a major decision. To make this decision, you and your doctor will consider the severity of your mitral valve stenosis, the possibility that it will get worse, and the risks of surgery.
To learn more about valve repair and valve replacement options, see:
Complete the special treatment information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this treatment.
CitationsNishimura RA, et al. (2014). 2014 AHA/ACC guideline for the management of patients with valvular heart disease: A report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. Circulation, published online March 3, 2014. DOI: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000031. Accessed May 1, 2014.Rodriguez L, Gillinov AM (2007). Mitral valve disease. In EJ Topol, ed., Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.Other Works ConsultedNishimura RA, et al. (2014). 2014 AHA/ACC guideline for the management of patients with valvular heart disease: A report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. Circulation, published online March 3, 2014. DOI: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000031. Accessed May 1, 2014.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerRakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, ElectrophysiologyMartin J. Gabica, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerMichael P. Pignone, MD, MPH, FACP - Internal Medicine
Current as ofOctober 5, 2017
Current as of: October 5, 2017
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Michael P. Pignone, MD, MPH, FACP - Internal Medicine
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