A paravalvular leak is a rare occurrence and happens when a replacement valve in your heart does not stay in place. When this happens, the valve allows small amounts of blood to flow around it or backward instead of through it. Large leaks can lead to heart failure and increase your risk for infection, so it’s important to get treatment right away.

Paravalvular leak closure is a nonsurgical procedure that involves inserting small plugs or coils inside the gaps next to the replacement valve. Here’s how it works:

Before treatment, you may undergo one or more cardiovascular imaging tests, such as an ultrasound of the heart, to pinpoint the source of your leak.

You will be given medication to put you to sleep and ease any discomfort.

An interventional cardiologist makes an incision in your artery and inserts a thin, spaghetti-like tube (catheter) with the closure device attached. Your doctor guides the catheter through your blood vessels, delivering the closure device to the source of the leak. Using special instruments and advanced imaging technology, he or she permanently attaches the closure device to your tissue or the valve to seal off the leak.

Your doctor removes the catheter, and your procedure is complete. After the procedure, additional imaging tests will be performed to make sure the closure is secure.