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Balloon Valvuloplasty

Aortic valve stenosis, also called aortic stenosis, is a narrowing of the heart’s aortic valve. When this happens, the valve does not open completely, which restricts the amount of blood flowing to the rest of the body. It also causes the heart to work harder, taxing the heart muscle and eventually weakening it. The good news is that WakeMed Heart Center offers a minimally invasive procedure that can correct this defect.

Balloon valvuloplasty, also known as valvulotomy or valvotomy, widens the heart valve so that normal or near normal blood flow is restored.

Before the procedure begins, a technologist will start an intravenous (IV) line in your arm that will deliver pain and sedating medication to help you remain comfortable during the procedure. A numbing medication will also be applied on the site where the catheter will be inserted, normally in the groin. The cardiologist will insert the tiny, flexible catheter and wind it to your heart. Once at the site of the narrowed valve, a balloon on the tip of the catheter is inflated, which opens the valve.

After the procedure, you will remain in the hospital overnight, and nurses will monitor the incision to ensure that there is no bleeding. You will be able to go home the next day, but will be advised to avoid lifting heavy objects for a few days.

This procedure is normally more successful in younger adults who have a congenital valve defect. Valvuloplasty may not be advised for some older adults who have complicating factors of aortic sclerosis, which is a hardening of plaque inside the arteries. An aortic valve replacement may be required in these cases.

How to prepare for Balloon Valvuloplasty 

Do not eat or drink after midnight on the evening before the procedure. Take your regular medications, but only have a small amount of water to take pills. If you take blood thinners or have diabetes, talk with your doctor about any special instructions.

Most patients remain in the hospital overnight to check for bleeding. If you are released the next day, you will need to have a driver take you home as you will not be allowed to drive. You will be able to resume driving and normal activities a few days after the procedure.

Your doctor will talk with you about the results of the balloon valvuloplasty and let you know how you can continue to care for your heart health. Lifestyle modifications – such as exercise, eating a healthy, lower fat diet and stop smoking – may help you improve your hearth health.