Balloon valve

Balloon valve

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Credit: ANTONIA REEVE/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Heart surgery balloon valve being prepared for use by being filled with saline. This is needed to ensure its correct operation. The balloon is seen mounted on its catheter (guide tube). The balloon will be deflated and the catheter will be inserted into an artery in the patient's groin and guided through the body arteries to a position in the aorta just outside the heart. The balloon will then be inflated to block the blood flow and allow a heart-lung machine to take over from the heart. This allows surgery to take place on the heart. Such balloons are also used to reduce the load on a pumping heart before, during and after surgery. This is surgery to replace a heart valve.

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