Prosthetic Paravalvular Leak (PVL) Repair

Procedure Stops Leakage Around Artificial Heart Valve

Sometimes a heart valve that is replaced with an artificial one can develop a leak around the new valve. This occurs most commonly due to infection, but technical factors such as the amount of mineral/calcium around the valve can play a role as well.

Small leaks may cause no symptoms. Larger leaks can cause problems such as congestive heart failure, hemolysis (a condition where blood cells are damaged by passing through the channel of a leaking valve leading to low blood counts—anemia), and increased risk of future infections.

Doctors can study the size and location of the leak using an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) and CT scans.

In some patients, larger leaks are repaired by open-heart surgery. In other cases, an experienced and specially trained interventional cardiologist can repair these leaks with a nonsurgical procedure. The physician inserts a tube called a catheter into a blood vessel in the groin area. The catheter is advanced through the blood vessels to the site of the leaking heart valve. Using X-ray and cardiac ultrasound equipment, the doctor implants one or more specialized closure devices to plug the leak.

Is Prosthetic Paravalvular Leak Repair Right for You?

If you have had a heart valve replacement—especially the mitral valve or aortic valve—and there is moderate to severe leakage around your artificial valve, your doctor may recommend a procedure to repair the leak. 

Symptoms of valve regurgitation (blood backing up into the pumping heart chamber) include:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart murmur
  • Rapid or fluttering heartbeats
  • Swelling in your ankles or feet

In some cases, you may not have symptoms, but a repair may prevent the condition from worsening or relieve the workload on your heart. Your doctor may also determine that your anemia might be a result of this leakage and suggest further evaluation for closure of this leak.

Why Choose University of Iowa for Your Heart Valve Care

The University of Iowa Heart and Vascular Center offers the most comprehensive transcatheter valve program in the entire state of Iowa and western Illinois. Our heart valve team of interventional cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, and imaging specialists realize that people with heart valve conditions have unique problems that require a treatment plan tailored to their individual needs. We provide a thorough medical assessment and a full range of catheter-based and surgical options for our patients who require PVL repair. 

Our board-certified physicians have fellowship training and special expertise in PVL repair. People come from across Iowa and the Midwest to receive care for the most complex heart valve problems. Our patients benefit from our experience and our excellent outcomes.

Experience does matter.

The UI Heart and Vascular Center has the most comprehensive transcatheter valve program in the region. We are of the only center in Iowa performing the catheter PVL repair procedure.

Greater experience translates to better outcomes.

The experience we’ve gained from our high volume of catheter-based valve procedures has helped us to achieve a high success rate and low complication rate, leading to improved heart function for our patients.

We are national leaders in cardiac valve care.

We were the first program in the nation to receive certification as a Heart Valve Center of Excellence from The Joint Commission, the accrediting agency for health care organizations in the United States.

All of our specialists are University of Iowa physician faculty.

Our patient care benefits directly from access to the latest medical procedures and technology, as well as from our participation in cutting-edge national and international research. 

Care Team