Valvuloplasty. Surgical repair of a heart valve for relief of symptoms or disability.
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- 1 Features
- 2 Heart Valves
- 3 Symptoms of valvular heart disease
- 4 Reasons to perform the procedure
- 1 Risks of the procedure
- 5 External links
- 6 Source
Valvuloplasty is performed, under certain circumstances, to open a stenotic (hardened) heart valve . In valvuloplasty, a very small, narrow, hollow tube, or catheter, is passed to the heart through a blood vessel in the groin and aorta . Once the catheter is placed in the valve to be opened, a large balloon is inflated at the tip of the catheter until the valve leaflets (flaps) open. Once the valve is opened, the balloon is deflated and the catheter is removed .
Other related procedures that can be used to evaluate and treat the heart include:
- resting and exertion electrocardiogram (ECG),
- Holter monitor,
- Averaged signal ECG,
- cardiac catheterization,
- chest x-ray,
- chest computed tomography (CT),
- graft aortocoronary bypass surgery,
- valve repair / replacement surgery,
- electrophysiological studies,
- nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the heart,
- myocardial perfusion scans,
- radionuclide angiography,
- ultrafast computed tomography.
Valves of the heart
The heart is a pump made of muscle tissue. The heart has four pumping chambers: two upper chambers, called atria, and two lower chambers, called ventricles. The right atrium pumps blood to the right ventricle, which then pumps the blood to the lungs, where waste such as carbon dioxide is removed and oxygen and other nutrients are taken and transported to the blood.
From the lungs, blood flows back to the left atrium, is pumped to the left ventricle, and then through the aorta to the rest of the body and the coronary arteries. When the atria pump, the ventricles relax to receive the blood that comes from them. Once the atria have pumped all the blood load to the ventricles, they relax as the ventricles pump blood to the lungs and the rest of the body.
In order for the blood to always flow forward as it travels through the heart, there are valves between each of the heart’s pumping chambers:
- Tricuspid valve : located between the right atrium and the right ventricle.
- Pulmonary valve : located between the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery.
- Mitral valve : located between the left atrium and the left ventricle.
- Aortic valve : Located between the left ventricle and the aorta .
If the heart valves become damaged or diseased, they may not work properly. The conditions that can cause heart valve dysfunction are valve stenosis and valve insufficiency (regurgitation). When one or more valves become stiff or narrowed, the heart muscle must work harder to pump blood through the valve.
Some of the reasons that the heart valves get narrowed are infections (such as rheumatic fever or staph infections ) and aging. When one or more valves stop working well (causing leaks), blood flows backwards, less blood is pumped in the right direction.
Symptoms of valvular heart disease
- Chest pain
- Breathing difficulty
- Edema (swelling) of the feet, ankles, or abdomen
- Rapid weight gain due to fluid retention
Reasons to perform the procedure
Valvuloplasty is performed in certain situations to open a heart valve that has hardened as a result of illness or the aging process. Not all conditions in which a heart valve hardens can be treated with valvuloplasty. The doctor may recommend a valvuloplasty for other reasons.
Risks of the procedure
Possible risks associated with valvuloplasty may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Bleeding from the catheter insertion site
- Blood clot or injury to the blood vessel at the insertion site
- Infection at the catheter insertion site
- Cardiac arrhythmias / arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythm)
- Valve rupture, requiring open heart surgery
There may be other risks depending on your specific health condition. Hence, it is advisable to consult all doubts with your doctor before the procedure.