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Why Choose Penn Medicine

Penn cardiologists have used valvuloplasty (also known as balloon valvuloplasty or balloon valvotomy) to treat heart valves since the 1980s. Our Heart Valve Disease Program performs more valvuloplasty procedures for mitral valve stenosis than anyone in the tri-state region. We treat patients that other hospitals can’t.

Balloon Valvuloplasty Treatment Overview 

Valvuloplasty is a nonsurgical procedure that relies on a catheter (thin, flexible tube) inserted into a vein or artery in your groin to repair your heart valve. A balloon is guided with the catheter to the heart and expanded in the narrowed valve to split the leaflets apart. Penn cardiologists use valvuloplasty to treat: 

  • Mitral valve stenosis: Valvuloplasty is the treatment of choice for patients with rheumatic mitral valve stenosis whose anatomy is suitable for the procedure. 
  • Pulmonary stenosis: As a congenital disease, pulmonary stenosis is often treated in childhood. Penn cardiologists use valvuloplasty to repair pulmonary stenosis in adult patients who require further treatment.
  • Aortic stenosis: Our cardiologists use balloon valvuloplasty as a palliative treatment to improve aortic stenosis-related symptoms in patients who are not candidates for aortic valve surgery and transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR).

Mitral Valvuloplasty Procedure: What to Expect

Penn cardiologists perform balloon valvuloplasty in the cardiac catheterization laboratory using the Inoue Balloon™ catheter, developed specifically for the treatment of mitral valve stenosis. 

This nonsurgical procedure takes about an hour and requires an overnight stay in the hospital. You will receive conscious sedation or general anesthesia during your mitral valvuloplasty. Our cardiac team will monitor your vital signs during the procedure. During valvuloplasty, your doctor will:

  • Inject a local anesthetic into the skin at the insertion site in the groin.
  • Insert a catheter (long, thin tube) with a balloon on the tip into your blood vessel and guide it to your heart.
  • Use X-ray and echocardiographic imaging to position the balloon in your narrowed mitral valve.
  • Inflate the balloon, which expands the opening of the valve.
  • Deflate the balloon and remove the catheter and balloon.

Outlook After Mitral Valvuloplasty

Balloon valvuloplasty improves blood flow and should immediately decrease the symptoms of valve disease. The benefits can last decades, but it does not cure mitral stenosis. If your stenosis returns, you may require medication, a second valvuloplasty or additional valve procedures, including mitral valve surgery or transcatheter mitral valve replacement (TMVR). Penn cardiologists will monitor and evaluate your valve disease regularly so that any changes to your condition are caught and treated early.

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