Valvuloplasty is a procedure used to open and widen a narrowed heart valve, also known as a stenotic heart valve. This non-surgical treatment helps improve blood flow through the narrowed valve so you can experience relief from symptoms of heart valve disease.
What Is Valvuloplasty?
Valvuloplasty is often performed to open a stiffened or narrowed heart valve and re-establish normal blood flow through the valve. Heart valves that become damaged or diseased may stop working properly and produce symptoms including chest pain, palpitations, and difficulty breathing. Though valvuloplasty is most commonly used to treat stenosis of the heart valves, this procedure can also treat a leaky valve, known as valvular regurgitation.
Who Needs Valvuloplasty, When Do They Need It, and Why?
Your doctor may recommend a valvuloplasty if you need a mitral valve repaired, or if you’re suffering from severe valve stenosis with symptoms. Valvuloplasty can also treat those who have stenosis of the aortic valve and those with stenosis of the tricuspid or pulmonary valves. Your doctor may recommend a valvuloplasty to open a heart valve that has become stiff. Valvuloplasty is ideal for those who desire a non-surgical alternative to traditional heart valve surgery.
What Tests Do You Need Before Valvuloplasty?
Your doctor may order one or more blood tests before valvuloplasty to check your general health and to determine how long it takes your blood to clot. Other tests you may need before valvuloplasty include electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, CT or MRI scan, chest X-ray, and heart catheterization. Your doctor may also remove hair from the area on your groin or arm where the catheter will be inserted during the procedure.
Which Tests Do You Need After Valvuloplasty?
A valvuloplasty is intended to improve blood flow through your heart and reduce your symptoms. If your symptoms come back, you may need to undergo another valvuloplasty. Contact your doctor immediately if symptoms of heart valve disease come back, or if you experience any of the following after valvuloplasty: fever, chills, decreased urination, swelling of the extremities or abdomen, chest pain, or weight gain of over three pounds in one day.
How Do You Prepare for Valvuloplasty?
Your doctor will give you specific instructions regarding how to prepare for valvuloplasty. You will be instructed to fast for several hours before the procedure, including overnight. You must also tell your doctor if you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant, and whether you are allergic to iodine, contrast dye, tape, latex, and medicines or medications — including those used for anesthesia.
What Happens During Valvuloplasty?
During a valvuloplasty, a doctor inserts a long, thin catheter into an artery in your groin or arm and carefully guides it to the narrowed valve in your heart. An ultrasound of the heart may be used to help your doctor see the damaged valve more clearly and precisely.
After the catheter is in place, a tiny balloon is inserted through the catheter and inflated to expand and widen the damaged valve. The balloon is then deflated, and both the balloon and catheter are carefully removed from the valve. You may be awake during valvuloplasty, but anesthesia will be used to prevent you from feeling any sensations or pain during the procedure.
What Happens After Valvuloplasty?
A valvuloplasty takes place in the hospital and may require an overnight stay or several hours of observation so medical staff can monitor your vital signs. You may receive pain medicine to relieve discomfort and be encouraged to drink plenty of water to flush the contrast dye from your body.
Following your release from the hospital, you must closely monitor the catheter incision site for signs of infection and avoid strenuous physical activity and direct contact with water. Your doctor will give you specific instructions to follow based on the results of your valvuloplasty.
CareCube offers primary care and cardiovascular services designed to help you maintain good heart health. Contact us today to request an appointment and begin the treatment process.