2 The condition, current treatments and procedure

2 The condition, current treatments and procedure

The condition

2.1 Tricuspid regurgitation is when blood flows backwards through the tricuspid valve because it does not close properly during systole. It can be caused by a problem with the valve itself (primary). But it is more commonly secondary to an underlying cardiac problem that has caused the heart to become dilated.

2.2 People with mild tricuspid regurgitation do not usually have any symptoms. If the regurgitation is severe people may have fatigue and weakness, active pulsing in the neck veins, liver enlargement, ascites, peripheral oedema and renal impairment. Pulmonary hypertension may develop.

Current treatments

2.3 Treatment may not be needed if there are no or mild symptoms. There are no specific medicines for treating tricuspid regurgitation itself, but symptoms of heart failure are managed with diuretics and other medicines. Medication to reduce pulmonary artery pressure or pulmonary vascular resistance, or both, are used when there is severe functional tricuspid regurgitation and severe pulmonary hypertension.

2.4 People with severe symptoms may have surgery to repair or replace the tricuspid valve. Isolated tricuspid valve surgery is rarely done because it is associated with high morbidity and mortality. More commonly, it is done at the same time as surgery to the valves on the left side of the heart (mitral and aortic).

The procedure

2.5 Transcatheter tricuspid valve leaflet repair for tricuspid regurgitation is designed to improve the function of the tricuspid valve with less morbidity and mortality than conventional surgical valve repair. It has been proposed as an option for people in whom conventional open surgery poses a high risk. The procedure aims to reduce regurgitation, increase quality of life, reduce hospital admissions related to heart failure and improve survival.

2.6 The procedure is done under general anaesthesia using transoesophageal echocardiography and fluoroscopy guidance. Access to the heart is through the femoral or jugular vein.

2.7 Different systems have been used and details of the technique vary. A delivery system is used to introduce a device into the heart that can grip the leaflets of the tricuspid valve and bring them closer together. The device is then released from the delivery system. Adequate reduction of tricuspid regurgitation is assessed using echocardiography.

  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)