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Pulmonary Valvuloplasty

The pulmonary valve is one of the heart’s four valves. It normally opens fully when the right ventricle squeezes to allow the blood to flow from the right ventricle to the pulmonary artery and then the lungs.

Sometimes, a person is born with an abnormally thickened or fused valve. This is called congenital pulmonary stenosis. The valve can’t open as fully as it normally would. The heart has to work harder to push the blood out to the lungs. Over time, this can damage the overworked heart muscle.

Pulmonary valvuloplasty is a procedure that aims to fix this problem without the need for open-heart surgery. The procedure uses a long, thin tube called a catheter. This tube has an inflatable balloon at its tip.

The healthcare provider puts this catheter through a blood vessel in the groin and threads it all the way to the pulmonary valve. The balloon is then inflated and stretches the valve to open it up. Then blood can flow out to the pulmonary artery without blockage.

Why choose Presbyterian for your pulmonary valvuloplasty?

Presbyterian Heart and Vascular Care has a team of highly-skilled surgeons who are using some of the most advanced techniques to perform this procedure. These techniques can improve recovery time, reduce complications and provide a quicker return to work and other daily activities.

Who is eligible for a pulmonary valvuloplasty?

You may be eligible for this procedure if you have congenital pulmonary stenosis.

Your doctor may want to do these tests to diagnose your case:

  • Chest X-ray.

  • Blood tests to check general health.

  • Electrocardiogram to check the heart rhythm.

  • CT or MRI scans for more details about your heart.

  • Cardiac catheterization to better look at the coronary blood vessels.

  • Echocardiogram, to see heart anatomy and blood flow through the heart.

What conditions can be treated with a pulmonary valvuloplasty?

Pulmonary valvuloplasty can treat pulmonary stenosis. Mild cases of pulmonary stenosis may not lead to any symptoms. But if you have a more moderate case, you may be tired and have shortness of breath when exercising.

You may develop symptoms later in childhood or adulthood. People with severe symptoms often need some procedure or surgery. Treatment is often recommended for pregnant women, especially if the stenosis is serious.

How do I prepare for a pulmonary valvuloplasty?

Ask your healthcare provider about how to get ready for the procedure. You should not eat or drink anything after the midnight before the procedure. You may also need to stop taking certain medicines beforehand.

What should I expect during my pulmonary valvuloplasty?

The procedure usually happens in a cardiac catheterization lab. It is done by a cardiologist and a team of specialized nurses. During the two hour procedure, the team will carefully watch your vital signs.

How do I care for myself after my pulmonary valvuloplasty?

After you leave the hospital:

  • Ask what medicine you need to take. You may temporarily need to take antibiotics or medicine to prevent blood clots. Take pain medicine as needed.

  • You can resume your normal activities fairly quickly. But avoid strenuous activities and heavy lifting for several days.

  • Stitches or staples will be removed in a follow-up appointment. Be sure to keep all follow-up visits.

  • Call your healthcare provider if you have increased swelling, chest pain, increased bleeding or drainage, a fever, or severe symptoms.

  • Follow all the instructions your healthcare provider gives you about medicine, exercise, diet, and wound care.

Most of the time, symptoms improve right away after balloon valvuloplasty. But you will need lifelong care from a cardiologist. Some people will need another valvuloplasty or other procedure in the future.