Tricuspid valve replacement and repair are surgical procedures that treat diseases affecting one of four heart valves. The procedures can ease symptoms and increase survival in people with tricuspid regurgitation or tricuspid stenosis. Traditional tricuspid valve surgery requires open-heart surgery. Less invasive procedures may also be available.
Tricuspid valve replacement and repair are procedures to treat diseases affecting your heart’s tricuspid valve.
The tricuspid valve is one of four valves that control blood flow through your heart. It’s on the right side of your heart, between the upper chamber (atrium) and lower chamber (ventricle). It ensures that blood flows in the correct direction from the right atrium down to the right ventricle. The tricuspid valve has three flaps, called leaflets, that open and close as blood flows through it.
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Some people have health conditions that affect the tricuspid valve’s function, called tricuspid valve disease. The main types are:
When the tricuspid valve doesn’t function correctly, your heart may have to work harder to supply your body with blood. This can cause bothersome symptoms and lead to complications, such as heart failure.
In general, healthcare professionals recommend repair using your own heart tissue whenever possible. But if the valve and surrounding tissue are too damaged, your healthcare professional may recommend a replacement valve.
There are two types of replacement valves: biological and mechanical. A biological valve may come from an animal or deceased human donor. A mechanical valve is a manufactured medical device.
If you receive a valve from an animal or human donor, you may not need to take blood thinners afterward. But mechanical valves increase the risk of blood clots, so you will need to take blood thinners for life.
Before surgery to repair or replace your tricuspid valve, your doctor and treatment team will:
They may conduct tests to ensure you’re healthy enough for surgery and to plan the procedure. Tests may include:
Tricuspid valve surgery is often performed as open-heart surgery, which involves a 6- to 8-inch incision in your chest.
The surgical team will:
Depending on the valve problem, there are several approaches to tricuspid valve surgery. The surgeon might:
There are less invasive options for tricuspid valve surgery that use smaller incisions and may not require a bypass machine. Your surgeon will let you know which type of surgery is best for you. Minimally invasive options include:
Your surgeon and healthcare team may perform other procedures at the same time as tricuspid valve repair or replacement. For example:
After tricuspid valve surgery, you’ll probably stay in the hospital a few nights. The length of your stay depends on several factors, including your overall health and the type of procedure you received.
Before you leave the hospital, the healthcare team will monitor you and order imaging tests to ensure the repair or replacement is working.
Tricuspid repair or replacement can:
Tricuspid valve repair or replacement is invasive and presents several potential risks, including:
Recovery time after tricuspid valve repair or replacement depends on several factors, including your overall health. Most people need several months after open-heart surgery to return to normal activities. Recovery from transcatheter procedures is shorter, usually a few weeks.
A biological replacement valve can last 10 to 20 years.
After tricuspid valve surgery, report any symptoms that could mean the valve or heart aren’t functioning well:
Also, call your healthcare provider if you have signs of infection, like:
Seek emergency medical help if you have any of these symptoms, which may indicate a life-threatening problem with heart function:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Tricuspid valve replacement and repair are surgical procedures to treat one of four valves in your heart. If you have tricuspid regurgitation or tricuspid stenosis, talk to your cardiologist about whether this type of surgery can help.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/12/2022.
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