Balloon Septostomy

Balloon septostomy is a surgical procedure that uses a balloon catheter to widen a foramen ovale, patent foramen ovale, or atrial septal defect.

Children with cyanotic congenital heart defects (abnormalities in the heart structure that do not allow the body to get oxygenated blood) need balloon septostomy to ensure proper flow of oxygenated blood to the body.

The procedure is usually done as a bridge until corrective surgery can be done. It is not an open-heart surgical procedure.

Pre-Operative Details for Balloon Septostomy

Your surgeon will give specific instructions before the balloon septostomy surgery, including risks such as bleeding, infection, or adverse reaction to anesthesia.

Please be sure to contact your insurance company for coverage.

You will also meet with the anesthesiologist prior to the surgery to go over your medical history. You should not eat after midnight the night before your surgery.

On the day of surgery, you will arrive at the hospital, register, and change into a gown. A nurse will review your chart to make sure there are no problems.

The anesthesiologist will then start an IV and you will be taken to the operating room, where the surgeon will verify your name and procedure before any medication is given. Once you are under anesthesia, surgery will begin.

Operative Details for Balloon Septostomy

The surgeon begins by making a tiny incision in the groin area to gain access to the femoral artery via a catheter.

Once this catheter is in place, a second deflated balloon catheter is placed inside the first catheter and guided up to the heart. A small camera inside the second catheter enables the physician to see the heart on a video monitor, and repetitive X-rays with dye and contrast are also taken.

Upon reaching the right atrium, the balloon catheter is passed through the foramen ovale or atrial septal defect to the left atrium and inflated.

Once inflated, it is pulled back to the right atrium, creating a larger opening between the right and left atrium to allow for oxygenated and deoxygenated blood to mix.

After the balloon is deflated, the catheters are removed and the incision is closed.

Post-Operative Details for Balloon Septostomy

After the surgery, you’ll be taken to the post-operative recovery area and monitored. Pain is likely, so pain medication will be given appropriately. It’s important to keep the incision areas clean and dry once the catheter is removed.

The length of your hospital stay depends on how quickly you’re able to recover and perform some physical activity. Please let your doctor know immediately if you experience fevers, severe pain, redness, swelling, warmth where the incisions were made, or drainage from the incisions. Your surgeon will give specific instructions about recovery time.

Request an Appointment

To meet with a balloon septostomy specialist at UT Southwestern's facilities in Dallas or for more information about our services, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.