A Simple Explanation

The widening of narrowed or stenotic Aortic valve by inflating a balloon attached to the end of a catheter that is placed inside the aortic valve.

What is Balloon Aortic Valvotomy?

Balloon Aortic Valvotomy, also called the Aortic Valvuloplasty, is the procedure of using a balloon catheter to widen the stenotic aortic valve and improving the blood flow.

The heart has four chambers and a valve at each of the exit of the chambers. The blood flows into heart at the Right Atrium, then moves to the Right Ventricle and then the Left Atrium and finally to the Left Ventricle before being pumped out of the heart through the aorta. The aortic valve is the last valve of the heart found between the left ventricle and the aorta.

When is it needed?

The conditions that cause damage to the valves are:

  • Valvular Stenosis or stiffened Valve: in this case, the heart muscle has to work harder to pump the pump the blood through the valve
  • Valvular Regurgitation or a leaky valve: here, blood leaks backwards and so less blood is pumped in the right direction.

The stiffness of the valves are usually caused by:

  • Infections like Rheumatic fever or Staphylococcus infections.
  • Birth Defects like Bicuspid Aortic Valve.
  • Aging

The patients suffering from Heart Valve diseases are:

  • Dizziness
  • Chest Pain
  • Breathing Trouble
  • Palpitations
  • Swelling of the feet, ankles and abdomen
  • Gain weight rapidly due to fluid retention


The possible risks of this procedure are:

  • Bleeding at the catheter site
  • Pain, swelling and tenderness at the insertion site
  • The irritation of the vein by the catheter
  • A bruise at the catheter insertion site that will fade after a few days.
  • Trouble urinating after the procedure

The Procedure

This procedure is performed in a cardiac catheterization laboratory and may last to around 4 hours. The patient lies on a X-ray table. The patient’s upper leg area is cleaned and made ready for the catheter insertion. This area is locally anaesthetized to numb the insertion site.

A catheter is first inserted into the blood vessel and then another balloon-tipped catheter is inserted in the earlier catheter. The X-ray monitor is used to guide the balloon-tipped catheter through the coronary artery to the heart. Once the deflated balloon is positioned in the stenotic aortic valve, the balloon is inflated a couple of times to dilate the valve. The valve leaflets are split apart by the inflated balloon, thus widening the valve.

Now that the valve is opened, the balloon-tipped catheter is removed. The other catheter remains for sometime, just in case this process has to be repeated.


  • The patient is usually kept under observation for sometime
  • Bed rest is recommended for the patient
  • The insertion site is examined for any bleeding, pain or tenderness

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