Pulmonary stenosis occurs when the pulmonary valve in the heart is smaller than normal. In people with this condition, the heart works harder to pump blood to the lungs. Such people should have regular checkups and certain tests to monitor any progression of the condition. In mild cases, no other treatment is necessary. However, severe cases require surgery or other medical procedures.
Pulmonary stenosis is a condition in which the pulmonary valve of the heart is narrowed. This is a congenital heart disease, meaning that people are born with it.
The pulmonary valve is on the right side of the heart. It separates the right ventricle and the entrance to the pulmonary artery, which carries blood to the lungs. Valves are like doors that open and close. They open to allow blood to flow into the next chamber of the heart or into one of the arteries, and then they shut to keep blood from flowing backwards.
With pulmonary stenosis, the pulmonary valve is malformed. This causes the valve to not fully open. This forces the heart (right ventricle) to pump harder to get blood past the pulmonary valve and into the lungs. Over time, the right ventricle thickens because of the extra work it is doing. As the right ventricle thickens, it becomes less effective at pumping blood through the pulmonary valve.
Difficulty breathing and fatigue are the two most common symptoms of pulmonary stenosis. However, people can remain without symptoms for quite some time, as the heart compensates for the pulmonary stenosis. In babies with severe pulmonary stenosis, some blue coloring to the skin may appear (called cyanosis).
Doctors diagnose pulmonary stenosis based on the person's symptoms, a physical exam, and certain tests and procedures. The tests to diagnose this condition can include:
- Chest x-ray
- Cardiac catheterization.