Tricuspid Valve Disease

About the Tricuspid Valve

The tricuspid valve is located between the right atrium and the right ventricle of the heart. It has three leaflets -or flaps- that pump blood from the atrium into the ventricle.

Tricuspid Valve Disease

Tricuspid valve disease usually comes in two forms: tricuspid regurgitation and tricuspid stenosis.

Tricuspid regurgitation occurs when the tricuspid valve cannot fully close. The valves becomes leaky, allowing blood to flow backwards. This creates a buildup of pressure on the right side of the heart, which can cause structural damage and create other issues.

Tricuspid stenosis is much less common than tricuspid regurgitation. In tricuspid stenosis, the tricuspid valve stiffens, making it difficult for blood to flow out. This forces the heart to work harder with less blood supply, which can lead to right-sided heart failure.

Symptoms of Tricuspid Valve Disease

Symptoms of tricuspid disease may include:

  • heart palpitations
  • shortness of breath
  • weakness and fatigue
  • swelling in the legs (edema)

Treatment Options

To repair the tricuspid valve, our doctors perform a procedure known as an annuloplasty, which involves placing a ring around the valve to reinforce it and allow it to function better.
Very rarely, reinforcing the valve is not an option and a tricuspid valve replacement is recommended instead. During a tricuspid valve replacement, a mechanical or biological tissue valve is placed between the right atrium and right ventricle in order to mimic the tricuspid valve.

In some cases, a biological tissue valve replacement may no longer work properly over time. When this happens, doctors may conduct a catheter procedure to replace the valve. In this procedure, doctors insert a catheter with a balloon at the end into a blood vessel in your neck or leg and thread it to the heart using imaging. A replacement valve is inserted through the catheter and guided to the heart. Doctors then inflate the balloon in the biological tissue valve in the heart, and place the replacement valve inside the valve that is no longer working properly. The new valve is then expanded.

Learn More About the Columbia Structural Heart and Valve Center