Balloon Valvuloplasty is Scheduled

The past couple months have been wonderfully uneventful.

Sam is growing fast! He weighs over 10lbs now. He can roll from his back to his front, and his first tooth is right under the surface of his gums.

We’ve continued to follow up with his cardiologist for his unicuspid aortic valve. After our visit on June 3, she consulted with her colleagues at Lurie Childrens, and yesterday she contacted me to let me know they want to go forward with his balloon catheter procedure this month. He is scheduled for June 22.

Sam was born with a unicuspid aortic valve. It is a congenital heart defect where the valve between the heart and aorta is not formed properly. A normal valve has three leaflets, a bicuspid valve has two. Sam’s condition is the most rare, having a single leaflet and affects only about 1 in 5000 people.


It is more difficult for blood to pass through a unicuspid valve. Sam’s stenosis (narrowing) is severe, and we’ve known since his birth that he would need this procedure. His heart needs to work harder to push blood through the valve into the aorta. This can cause the left ventricle of his heart to thicken, and cause his aortic root to dilate.

At some point later in his life, Sam will need open heart surgery to replace his valve with either an artificial or a donor valve, but we hopefully have a decade or more before that surgery.

The procedure Sam will be having later this month is a Balloon Valvuloplasty.

For the procedure a catheter will be inserted, most likely through his femoral artery near his groin, and guided up toward his heart using x-ray to provide visual guidance. A small balloon at the end of the catheter will be inflated in order to help push open Sam’s aortic valve to allow for the proper amount of blood flow.

There are few risks associated with the procedure, and Sam will most likely only need to stay one night at the hospital.

The procedure will be performed by Doctor Wax, the director of Interventional Cardiology and Catheterization at Lurie Childrens. Doctor Wax’s team performs over 500 pediatric cardiac catheterizations each year.

We will continue to follow up with Sam’s cardiologist regularly, but this will hopefully be the last cardiac intervention he needs for at least a decade.

Please let us know if you have any questions.


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