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Balloon Dilation in the Cath Lab

What is balloon dilation?

During a cardiac catheterization, your doctor may find that a valve or blood vessel is too small and needs to be enlarged. At times, this can require surgery. Sometimes, however, this can be done in the cath lab with a special balloon designed just for this purpose.

When a blood vessel is stretched using a balloon, this is called a balloon angioplasty (an-gee-o-plast-ee) and when the balloon opens a valve this is called a balloon valvuloplasty (val-vue-lo-plast-ee). Both procedures are done while the person is asleep, and can’t feel anything.

What happens during balloon dilation?

  • When a balloon is used, it is inserted through the catheter in the leg or neck and moved to the right place using x-ray.
  • Then, the balloon is filled with a special fluid can also be seen on x-ray. This inflation only takes a few seconds, and it may be done several times before the balloon is taken out.
  • There are many different sizes of balloons, and the doctor will choose which one is the best size for your child. Sometimes, the doctor may use more than one balloon to get the desired results.

What happens after the procedure?

After a balloon procedure, the balloon and the catheters are taken out the same way they were put in. A small bandage is taped over the place where the catheter went in. When the person wakes up, they won’t feel anything where the balloon was blown up, but they might feel better because the valve or blood vessels are working better. If everything has gone just right, the person usually spends only one night in the hospital. They usually have an echocardiogram in the morning, and then go home after being checked by the doctor.


Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 02/05