Effectiveness of balloon valvuloplasty

Balloon valvuloplasty (or valvulotomy) is a procedure in which a tiny balloon is inserted into the aortic valve and inflated to widen a narrowed valve (aortic valve stenosis).

During the valvuloplasty procedure, you will be awake, but you will receive local anesthesia where the catheter is inserted as well as intravenous (IV) pain medication along with a sedative to help you relax. The procedure usually is performed on an outpatient basis, so you will be able to go home the same day. Before leaving, you will have to spend several hours in a recovery room.

Balloon valvuloplasty is generally an effective treatment for aortic valve stenosis in teens and young adults but has very limited effectiveness in older adults. In most older adults, the valve becomes narrowed again (restenosis) within 6 to 12 months after this procedure.1

Balloon valvuloplasty is more effective in younger people because of the difference in the causes of aortic valve stenosis in younger and older people. Young people generally develop the condition because they were born with a bicuspid valve, which is an aortic valve that has two leaflets instead of three. Older people, on the other hand, typically develop stenosis over many years through a gradual hardening and buildup of calcium on their valves, a process called aortic sclerosis, which is similar to atherosclerosis, the buildup of hard plaque inside the arteries.

In certain cases, valvuloplasty can also be effective as a "bridge" to valve replacement for pregnant women or people who have serious medical conditions that currently make the risk of valve surgery too great.

Citations

  1. Bonow RO, et al. (2006) ACC/AHA 2006 guidelines 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 (Writing Committee to Revise the 1998 Guidelines for the Management of Patients with Valvular Heart Disease). Circulation, 114(5): e84–e231.

Last Updated: November 4, 2009

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