Aortic valvuloplasty is a procedure that is used to open a stenotic aortic valve. Aortic valve stenosis is a condition in which the aortic valve is deformed and narrowed. The narrowing or stenosis is caused by valve leaflets that are thickened and fused. This prevents the valve from opening completely during systole. Systole is the phase of the heartbeat in which the ventricles contract. As a result, blood cannot flow easily into the aorta and pressure builds in the left ventricle. This can damage the heart muscle eventually.
To open the valve and improve blood flow, a catheter procedure called a valvuloplasty may be performed. A guided wire is inserted into a small incision in the upper thigh. The wire is guided through the blood vessels and aorta and into the aortic valve. A balloon catheter is inserted over the guide wire until it reaches the narrowed aortic valve. The balloon on the catheter is then inflated opening the stenotic valve. The catheter is removed and blood flows normally through the valve. There is often some degree of backward leakage through the valve, and most patients will require later intervention.
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