The heart is a beating muscle that pumps blood throughout the body. Inside the heart, four valves direct blood flow. Two valves control the flow of blood from the upper chambers, or atria, to the lower chambers, or ventricles. Two other valves control blood flow from the ventricles, one to the lungs and the other to the rest of the body.
During a normal heartbeat, oxygen-rich blood moves from the left atrium into the left ventricle through the mitral valve. Sometimes this valve becomes narrow, stiff, or thickened. This condition is known as mitral valve stenosis.
Mitral valvuloplasty is a procedure used to treat mitral valve stenosis by increasing the width of the mitral valve opening and restoring normal blood flow. During this procedure, a guide wire is inserted into a vein in the leg and led into the heart. Then a balloon catheter is moved over the guide wire and pushed into the mitral valve opening.
The far end of the balloon is inflated first, in order to position the balloon correctly within the opening. Then, the entire balloon is inflated to expand the opening of the valve. The balloon may be inflated and deflated several times. Once the valve has been widened enough, the balloon catheter is removed.
This procedure allows for the heart to pump more effectively, reducing pressure in the heart and lungs. There are several potential complications associated with this procedure. Your doctor is the best source of information for your condition. It is important to discuss with your doctor which treatment, if any, is most appropriate for you.