Balloon Valvuloplasty | Procedure | MedStar Health

Minimally invasive procedure to improve blood flow

Certain heart valve diseases can cause a valve to become stiff and make the heart work harder to pump blood. We use balloon valvuloplasty to reopen the valve and allow blood to flow more easily to the chambers of the heart, lungs, and rest of the body.

The experts in our Interventional Cardiology Program work out of multiple cardiac catheterization labs around the region that are staffed 24/7 and use the latest technology, meaning you can get treatment close to home. We offer several types of valvuloplasty including aortic valvuloplasty and mitral valvuloplasty.

What to expect during a balloon valvuloplasty?

An IV will be inserted in your hand or your arm to provide a sedative to help you relax, but you will remain awake during the procedure. You will be connected to an electrocardiogram to monitor your heart during the procedure.

A local anesthetic will be injected to numb the groin area. The doctor will insert a thin, flexible tube known as a catheter into a blood vessel in the groin. The catheter will contain a balloon at the tip. Your doctor will guide the catheter to the valve and inject a dye to make it easier to see inside the valve. We’ll use X-rays to confirm the catheter is in the correct location, and your doctor will inflate the balloon.

You may be asked to breathe in deeply while your doctor positions and inflates the balloon. When the balloon is inflated, you may feel some chest discomfort, but it should not be painful. The balloon may be deflated and inflated several times to fully open the valve. After the valve has been opened, the balloon is deflated, and the catheter is removed.

The procedure lasts about 1 hour, but you will need to lie flat without bending your legs for several hours in the recovery area after the procedure. You may need to spend the night in the hospital.


Heart Murmurs

A heart murmur is a swishing sound caused by abnormal blood flow in or around your heart. Often harmless, murmurs can be caused by problems with your heart valves.

Heart Valve Disease

Heart valve disease occurs when at least one of the four heart valves doesn’t work properly, disrupting the normal flow of blood.


Cardiac Catheterization

Cardiac catheterization is a minimally invasive way to diagnose and treat a variety of heart and vascular conditions by guiding thin, flexible tubes called catheters through blood vessels to problem areas.

Chest X-ray

Chest X-rays use a small dose of radiation to create pictures of the structures inside the chest, including the lungs, heart, and chest wall.

Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan

The cardiac computed tomography scan, or cardiac CT, uses X-rays to create three-dimensional images of your heart and blood vessels.


An echocardiogram uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of your heart.

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

An electrocardiogram, also known as an ECG, measures the heart’s electrical activity.

Our locations

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MedStar Union Memorial Hospital

201 E. University Pkwy.
Baltimore, MD 21218

MedStar Washington Hospital Center

110 Irving St. NW
Washington, DC 20010

Additional information

Interventional Cardiology Program

We have one of the highest volume heart catheterization programs in the mid-Atlantic region, averaging nearly 12,000 procedures annually.

Ask MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute

Have general questions for our heart and vascular program? Email us at If you have clinically-specific questions, please contact your physician’s office.