Problem: Tricuspid Valve Regurgitation

Valve Regurgitation: When a Heart Valve Leaks

What is tricuspid valve regurgitation?

Tricuspid regurgitation is leakage of blood backward through the tricuspid valve each time the right ventricle contracts.

What happens during tricuspid regurgitation?

As the right ventricle contracts to pump blood forward to the lungs, some blood leaks backward into the right atrium, increasing the volume of blood in the atrium. As a result, the right atrium can enlarge, which can change the pressure in the nearby chambers and blood vessels.

Watch a valve regurgitation animation.

Regurgitation animation

What causes tricuspid regurgitation?

Tricuspid regurgitation often results from an enlarged lower heart chamber (right ventricle).

Other diseases also may cause tricuspid regurgitation, infective endocarditis (valve infection), Marfan syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatic fever (PDF)(link opens in new window), injury, carcinoid tumors and myxomatous degeneration. 

What are the symptoms of tricuspid valve regurgitation?

Tricuspid regurgitation may not have symptoms or the symptoms may be vague, such as weakness and fatigue. The symptoms of tricuspid regurgitation develop due to a backup in volume and pressure from the right side of heart and venous system, resulting in abdominal swelling and engorgement or enlarged liver.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Active pulsing in the neck veins
  • Swelling in the legs, ankles, and/or feet
  • Decreased urine output

Treatment options may include:

Treatment  may not be required if the symptoms are not bothersome. Any underlying disorder, such as emphysema or pulmonary stenosis, should be treated when possible, and symptoms such as swelling can be managed with medications.

Surgical valve repair or valve replacement usually corrects the condition. Those with untreated, severe tricuspid regurgitation may face a poor prognosis, either from the valve disease itself or because of complications from the underlying condition causing the valve problem.
Video: Dr. Robert Bonow on Heart Valve Disease

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