Pulmonary stenosis

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Learn about pulmonary stenosis. This condition involves the pulmonary valve being unable to open completely. This results in constricted blood flow.

Key points

  • With pulmonary stenosis, the pulmonary valve may be only slightly narrowed, needing no treatment, or severely narrowed, needing treatment once the problem is diagnosed.
  • Babies often have no symptoms, while in severe cases, children may have cyanosis and congestive heart failure.

With pulmonary stenosis, the pulmonary valve is unable to open completely, so the blood flowing from the right ventricle to the pulmonary artery is constricted. "Stenosis" refers to the narrowing of a passageway. The constriction means that it is difficult for the right ventricle to pump the blood through the narrowing.

Normal heartNormal heart showing placement of the atria, ventricles, aorta, superior vena cava, inferior vena cava, pulmonary artery and pulmonary veins
The heart has two upper (receiving) and two lower (pumping) chambers. Blood flows into the upper chambers (the right atrium and the left atrium). The lower chambers (the right and left ventricles) pump blood out of the heart. The heart valves open and close to keep blood flowing in the correct direction.
Pulmonary stenosisHeart with thickened and narrowed pulmonary valve and thickened right ventricle
Pulmonary stenosis is when the pulmonary valve is narrowed and thickened, making it unable to open completely. The right ventricle has to work harder to pump blood across the narrowed, obstructed valve, which makes the right ventricle become thickened.

Pulmonary stenosis has been found in 8% to 10% of patients with congenital heart disease.

What are the symptoms of pulmonary stenosis?

In cases with severe narrowing, children may develop cyanosis and congestive heart failure. Babies who have this defect often show no symptoms, but will have a heart murmur.

An electrocardiogram, an echocardiogram, and a chest X-ray may be done to diagnose the condition.

How is pulmonary stenosis treated?

Balloon dilation valvuloplasty may be done to widen the opening. This is a cardiac catheterization procedure that stretches open the valve.

Children with more severe symptoms may need to undergo a surgical pulmonary valvotomy. With this procedure, the valve is surgically widened, often with the use of a patch.

Last updated: December 4th 2009