In the technique of percutaneous balloon valvuloplasty, one or more large balloons are inserted percutaneously and then inflated across a stenotic valve to decrease the degree of obstruction. Currently, the procedure is being performed for patients with pulmonic, mitral, or aortic stenosis. The results vary according to the type of valve and the age of the patient. In patients with pulmonic stenosis, balloon valvuloplasty can be performed safely and the results are excellent. Therefore, at many institutions it is the procedure of choice for the treatment of isolated pulmonic stenosis. In patients with mitral stenosis, the results depend on the morphologic features of the stenotic valve. In patients with highly calcified and fibrotic mitral valve leaflets, the risks of the procedure are increased and the results are suboptimal. In experienced hands, however, balloon valvuloplasty is excellent for patients with a pliable, noncalcified mitral valve or those for whom operation imposes an extremely high risk. The use of balloon valvuloplasty for aortic stenosis has been limited to the frail, elderly patient who either is not a surgical candidate or is at high risk for operation. Although mortality and restenosis rates are high on short-term follow-up, aortic balloon valvuloplasty provides palliation of symptoms in many patients who otherwise would have been unable to undergo any intervention. Long-term follow-up is necessary for determining the ultimate role of balloon valvuloplasty in cardiology.
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