In most patients with narrowed or blocked cardiac valves, the primary treatment after medications have proven ineffective is surgery with valve replacement or repair. In surgery situations where age or additional conditions may be expected to cause complications, however, a less-invasive procedure called valvuloplasty is performed. In valvuloplasty, a balloon-tipped catheter is threaded from the groin to the site of the narrowed valve, where the balloon is repeatedly inflated to enlarge the valve opening and improve blood flow.

UNC is able to perform balloon valvuloplasty on each of the heart’s four valves: Aortic, pulmonary, tricuspid, and mitral. The decision to perform the procedure is made only after multiple specialists within the cardiology department–medical specialists, interventional doctors, and surgeons– have collaborated, ensuring that each patient receives the full advantage of each physician’s expertise so as to receive the optimum treatment.

In adults, valvuloplasty is performed in the UNC cardiac catheterization lab under local anesthetic, with the patient awake and able to watch the procedure through monitors. Children are given both general and local anesthesia.

Symptoms of narrowed or blocked cardiac valves may include blood pressure abnormalities, shortness of breath, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, or fainting.


Michael Yeung, MD

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Call the Heart & Vascular Center referral line at 866-862-4327 to find specialists, make an appointment or learn more about preventing heart disease.

Open Access is a new physician referral service, created by the UNC Center for Heart & Vascular Care, which coordinates all admissions and transfers through a single phone call and guarantees immediate acceptance for patients. Please contact us to learn more or call 866-862-4327.

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