Balloon valvotomy is used to increase the opening of a narrowed (stenotic) valve. It is used for:
- Select patients who have mitral valve stenosis with symptoms
- Older patients who have aortic valve stenosis, but are not able to undergo surgery
- Some patients with pulmonic valve stenosis
This balloon valvotomy procedure can be performed on the mitral, tricuspid, aortic or pulmonary valves.
How is a balloon valvotomy performed?
Balloon valvotomy is a non-surgical procedure performed in the cardiac catheterization laboratory by a cardiologist and a specialized team of nurses and technicians.
Long, slender tubes called catheters are first placed into blood vessels in the groin and guided into the chambers of the heart. The cardiologist then creates a tiny hole in the wall between the upper two chambers of the heart. This hole provides an opening for the cardiologist to access the left atrium with a special catheter that has a balloon at the tip.
The catheter is positioned so the balloon tip is directly inside the narrowed valve. The balloon is inflated and deflated several times to widen the valve opening. Once the cardiologist has determined that the opening of the valve has been widened enough, the balloon is deflated and removed.
During the procedure, the cardiologist may perform an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) to get a better picture of the mitral valve.