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* This is the Consumer Version. *

Pulmonic Stenosis

By Guy P. Armstrong, MD, North Shore Hospital, Auckland

Pulmonic (pulmonary) stenosis is a narrowing of the pulmonary valve opening that blocks (obstructs) blood flow from the right ventricle to the pulmonary artery. It is often present at birth (congenital) and thus affects children.

The pulmonic valve is in the opening between the right ventricle and the blood vessels going to the lungs (pulmonary arteries). The pulmonic valve opens as the right ventricle contracts to pump blood into the lungs. Certain disorders causes the valve opening to be narrowed (stenosis).

Pulmonic stenosis, which is rare among adults, is usually due to a birth defect. When the stenosis is severe, it is usually diagnosed during childhood, because it causes a loud heart murmur. Severe pulmonic stenosis occasionally causes heart failure in children but often does not cause symptoms until adulthood.

Symptoms include chest pain (angina), shortness of breath, and fainting.

Diagnosis

  • Physical examination

  • Echocardiography

Through a stethoscope, doctors may hear the characteristic murmur of pulmonic stenosis.

Echocardiography can produce an image of the narrowed valve opening and show the amount of blood passing through the valve, so that the severity of the stenosis can be determined.

Treatment

  • Balloon valvuloplasty

In people with symptoms and/or severe stenosis detected by echocardiography, balloon valvuloplasty may be done. In this procedure, the valve is stretched open using a catheter with a ballon on the tip, which is threaded through a vein and eventually into the heart. Once inside the valve, the balloon is inflated, separating the valve cusps.

* This is the Consumer Version. *