Balloon valvuloplasty is an alternative to surgery to treat mitral stenosis (mitral valve obstruction). This procedure entails placing a balloon into the mitral valve through a catheter inserted into a leg vein. The balloon is inflated, widening the mitral valve, and improving blood flow.
Blood that comes from the lungs enters the left atrium of the heart, and crosses into the left ventricle. The mitral valve between these two chambers makes sure the blood keeps moving forward. When the mitral valve is hardened (calcified), it prevents the blood from moving forward. When the mitral valve is too loose, the blood tends to flow backwards. Both of these conditions cause symptoms and may require mitral valve surgery.
Minimally invasive mitral valve surgery is done through much smaller surgical cuts than the large cuts needed for open surgery.
The health care provider will listen to the heart and lungs with a stethoscope. A distinctive murmur, snap, or other abnormal heart sound may be heard. The typical murmur is a rumbling sound that is heard over the heart during the resting phase of the heartbeat. The sound gets louder just before the heart begins to contract.
The exam may also reveal an irregular heartbeat or lung congestion. Blood pressure is usually normal.
Narrowing or obstruction of the valve or swelling of the upper heart chambers may show on these tests:
- Cardiac catheterization
- Chest x-ray
- Doppler ultrasound
- ECG (electrocardiogram)
- MRI of the heart
- Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE)