The tricuspid valve is located on the right side of the heart. Three leaflets, or flaps, control the direction and flow of blood through the tricuspid.
There are several conditions that can affect the tricuspid valve.
Treating Tricuspid Valve Disease at UVA Health
For mild issues, no treatment may be necessary for tricuspid valve disease. Doctors may decide to wait and observe. But if the symptoms have become severe, then it may be time to operate.
Unfortunately, if the tricuspid valve needs to be repaired, it’s likely the pulmonary valve does as well.
The tricuspid valve is usually repairable with the insertion of a semi-rigid ring. The pulmonary valve often requires replacement, typically with a bioprosthetic valve that often lasts more than 20 years.
The pulmonary valve is easily approached through a sternotomy or mini-sternotomy. Operations on these valves often do not require stopping the heart, but use of the heart-lung machine is still necessary.
Types of Tricuspid Valve Disease
The three primary types of tricuspid valve disease are tricuspid regurgitation, tricuspid stenosis, and tricuspid atresia.
Tricuspid regurgitation is also called tricuspid insufficiency. Essentially the leaflets don’t close all the way. This allows a small amount of blood to flow backwards from the right atrium to the right ventricle.
TR is a very common condition that affects up to 85% of the population. Mild regurgitation is considered benign, and may even be a normal variation of the heart muscle. But severe regurgitation can cause right side heart damage and needs to be treated.
Tricuspid stenosis on the other hand is very rare. In TS the valve narrows, which restricts blood flow between the atrium and ventricle.
Atresia is a congenital heart defect where a solid piece of tissue develops instead of a valve. When the right side of the heart isn’t formed correctly it’s called hypoplastic right heart syndrome. This is corrected over the course of several years with a series of surgeries.