Heart valves can be repaired by:
- Separating fused valve flaps
- Removing or reshaping tissue so the valve can close tighter
- Adding tissue to patch holes or tears or to increase the support at the base of the valve
Heart surgeons do most heart valve repair surgeries. Some repair surgeries are done using cardiac catheterization. Although catheterization procedures are less invasive, they also may not work as well for some patients. You and your doctor will decide whether repair is appropriate and the best procedure for doing it.
Heart valves that don't open fully (stenosis) can be repaired with surgery or with a less invasive catheter procedure called balloon valvuloplasty. This procedure also is called balloon valvotomy.
During the procedure, a balloon-tipped tube is threaded through your blood vessels and into the faulty valve in your heart. The balloon is inflated to help widen the opening of the valve. Your doctor then deflates the balloon and removes both it and the tube.
You're awake during the procedure, which usually requires an overnight stay in the hospital.
Balloon valvuloplasty relieves many of the symptoms of heart valve disease, but it may not cure it. The condition can still worsen over time. You may need medicines to help with symptoms or surgery to repair or replace the faulty valve.
Balloon valvuloplasty has a shorter recovery time than surgery. For some patients who have mitral valve stenosis, it may work as well as surgical repair or replacement. For these reasons, balloon valvuloplasty usually is preferred over surgical repair or replacement for these people. Balloon valvuloplasty doesn't work as well as surgical treatment for adults who have aortic valve stenosis.
Balloon valvuloplasty often is used in infants and children. In these patients, valve stenosis is caused by a congenital defect that can be repaired by a one-time procedure.
Please feel free to download and view our booklet on heart surgery information for patients and their families (1.7MB, PDF).
More information is available on the Cardiovascular Center Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) page.