Balloon Mitral Valvotomy

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.

What should I expect before the procedure?

  • Most patients will need to have blood tests, a chest x-ray, electrocardiogram, and an echocardiogram before the procedure. These tests are usually scheduled the day before the procedure.
  • Ask your doctor what medications should be taken on the day of your test.
    • If you are diabetic, ask your physician how to adjust your medications the day of your test.
    • Tell your doctor or nurse if you are taking any blood thinning medications such as Coumadin (warfarin). An alternate method for thinning your blood may be prescribed a few days before the procedure.
  • You will not be able to eat or drink after midnight the evening before the procedure.
  • Leave all valuables at home. If you normally wear dentures, glasses or a hearing assist device, plan to wear them during the procedure to help with communication.
  • Tell your doctor and/or nurses if you have any allergies.

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.

How long does the procedure last?

The procedure lasts about 1 hour, but the preparation and recovery time add several hours. Please plan on staying at Cleveland Clinic all day for the procedure and remaining in the hospital overnight. Patients usually go home the day after the balloon valvotomy procedure. When you are able to return home, arrange for a companion to bring you home.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/03/2019.

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