Pulmonary valve stenosis (pulmonary stenosis)
Over time, the opening in a heart valve can become narrow due to a collection of calcium deposits. When the valve narrows, the heart does not pump as well. Valvular stenosis can affect the heart's aortic, mitral, pulmonary or tricuspid valve. The pulmonary valve separates the right ventricle (lower chamber) and the pulmonary artery, which carries blood to the lungs to be oxygenated. With pulmonary valve stenosis, blood flow from the heart to the lungs is slowed because of a defect on or near the pulmonary valve. Sometimes the defect occurs with other congenital heart defects. Whether the condition is mild or serious, it is a rare disorder. Sometimes the problem runs in families.
The exact cause is unknown, but genes may be involved.
If your condition is asymptomatic, your doctor may recommend evaluation to manage the disease. Often, mild pulmonary stenosis is not accompanied by symptoms. If the stenosis is moderate to severe, symptoms may include:
- Distended abdomen
- Bluish skin color (cyanosis)
- Chest pain
- Poor weight gain or failure to thrive (in infants with a severe blockage)
- Shortness of breath
- Sudden death
Exercise or other activity may cause symptoms to worsen.
Most of the time this condition develops before birth, and will be discovered when a physical exam reveals a heart murmur. A mild case most likely will not get worse. However, cases of moderate to severe disease will. Other congenital heart defects also may affect the situation.
A heart exam with a stethoscope may reveal a heart murmur. Tests used to diagnose pulmonary stenosis may include:
- Cardiac catheterization
- Chest X-ray
- Electrocardiogram (ECG)
- Echocardiogram (echo)
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the heart
Your healthcare provider will evaluate the severity of the stenosis in planning treatment.
Very often, medication is used to treat valvular disease. Mild pulmonary stenosis usually can be monitored during routine checkups; however, severe cases can require balloon valvuloplasty or cardiac surgery to repair the pulmonary artery and/or repair or replace the pulmonary valve. Heart valve surgery has become an established and effective treatment for heart valve disease. Patients can lead fuller and more active lives because of surgical techniques and products available for valve repair or replacement surgery.