Tags: balloonvalvuloplasty | heartvalve | replacement | surgery

Heart Valve Defect: Balloon Valvuloplasty Vs. Valve Replacement Surgery

Tuesday, 08 April 2014 10:37 PM

The American Heart Association data says that every year around 5 million people are diagnosed with heart valve diseases in the U.S. alone. Heart valves are crucial in pumping the blood to the entire body. There are four heart valves namely, aortic valve, mitral valve, pulmonary valve, and tricuspid valve. At times, these heart valves become narrow and unable to perform desired functions.
Heart valve diseases are mainly of two types — valve stenosis and valve regurgitation. These valve defects may exist since birth (congenital) or acquired during a lifetime due to rheumatic disease and/or other infections. Balloon valvuloplasty, which is also known as valvotomy and valvulotomy is performed for valve repair. The narrowed heart valves are widened by this balloon valvuloplasty procedure.
In balloon valvuloplasty, a catheter is passed through artery and pushed close to the heart valve. A balloon-like structure is inflated at the tip of the catheter and the narrowed heart valve is widened. Then, the balloon is deflated and catheter is removed. This balloon valvuloplasty is done under X-ray guidance to avoid injury to other structures. In some cases, the balloon valvuloplasty can be an effective alternative to valve replacement surgery.
Young adults and pregnant women are advised to undergo balloon valvuloplasty instead of valve replacement surgery.  Older adults who are otherwise fit for surgery are advised valve replacement surgery rather than balloon valvuloplasty. Although safer than replacement surgery, the balloon valvuloplasty is also linked to side effects related to surgery and catheter. Pain, swelling, infection, and bleeding at the site of the catheter are some of the risks associated with balloon valvuloplasty; stroke and heart attack are also seen; at times, regurgitation from heart valves is observed in balloon valvuloplasty.
Heart valve replacement surgery is an advanced procedure. In this replacement surgery, the defective valve is removed and the surgeon replaces it with artificial valves known as prosthetic heart valves. Heart valve replacement surgery can be performed in many ways — open heart replacement surgery, minimally invasive replacement surgery, and percutaneous replacement surgery. Apart from all the complications of a major surgery, abnormal heart rate is also observed as one of the complications of valve replacement surgery. 

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Heart valve defects are a major cause of concern. The options for treatment are either balloon valvuloplasty or valve replacement surgery, both with their own merits and risks.
Tuesday, 08 April 2014 10:37 PM
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