Inside the heart, small flaps called valves open and close to allow blood to flow through the heart. If these valves don’t form correctly before birth, it can hurt the heart’s ability to pump blood.

The most common type of pediatric heart valve disorder is pulmonary valve stenosis. Stenosis means that the heart valve is narrowed, so blood flow is blocked. The valve may not open correctly because it is stiffened or partially fused shut. Valves can also form as bicuspid valves. Typically heart valves have three small flaps that help them open and shut correctly. Children with biscuspid valves only have two flaps, which can keep the valve from completely closing.

Pulmonary valve stenosis affects the valve that allows blood to flow to the lungs. It causes a loud heart murmur, so most people are diagnosed with the conditions as children. 

Aortic valve stenosis, another type of congenital heart valve disorder, may not show symptoms until your child is older. Aortic valve stenosis affects the valve that lets blood flow out from the heart into the body.

Rarely, children can have tricuspid valve stenosis or mitral valve stenosis due to birth defects. These conditions are much more likely to be caused by rheumatic fevers during childhood, which are rare in the United States.

Along with heart valve stenosis, children can develop heart valve insufficiency (also called regurgitation). Heart valve regurgitation means that the valve can leak, allowing blood to flow backward and causing the heart to become enlarged. Any heart valve can develop regurgitation, but aortic heart valve regurgitation is more commonly caused by birth defects.

CHKD pediatric cardiac surgeons perform advanced heart valve replacements as well as minimally invasive procedures to repair heart valve defects, including balloon valvuloplasty. These lifesaving techniques help your child’s heart pump normally so they can have an active, healthy childhood. At CHKD, your child receives care that is specially designed to meet children's unique needs. We also offer family's comprehensive support throughout treatment, including chaplaincy and social work services.

Learn more about CHKD pediatric cardiac surgery services online or by calling (757) 668-8850.