“Can A Tricuspid Valve Be Repaired?” Asks Eva

I just received a question about tricuspid valve surgery from Eva. She writes, “Adam – Can tricuspid valves be as easily repaired as mitral valves?”

To help answer Eva’s question, I just found a great video from Dr. Lishan Aklog, chief of cardiovascular surgery and chair of the Cardiovascular Center at the Heart & Lung Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center.

As Dr. Aklog notes, it is possible for the tricuspid valve to be repaired. However, as each patient case is unique, your surgeon will ultimately make the decision whether or not your valve will be repaired. In many situations, like mine, the valve leaflets are so degenerated — due to calcification, infection, aging, etc. — a repair will not restore valvular function. In those patient cases, a valve replacement is necessary.

If you were recently diagnosed with heart valve disease, or are preparing for heart valve surgery, the diagram below should help you understand the positioning of a tricuspid valve within the human heart – relative to the other three valves. You will notice the tricuspid valve has three leaflets (also known as valve flaps), similar to the aortic and pulmonary valve. The mitral valve only has two leaflets.

I hope this helps Eva (and perhaps you) learn a little more about tricuspid valve repair.

Keep on tickin!

Adam Pick
Written by Adam Pick

Adam Pick is a patient, author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery and the founder of HeartValveSurgery.com.

To learn how Adam has helped millions of people with heart valve disease, watch Adam's video, subscribe to his free newsletter, or visit his Facebook, or Twitter pages.

  • Fran

    The answer is yes. Dr Gillinov (Cleveland Clinic) performed my surgery March 18th. I went in prepared for a mitral valve replacement (rheumatic fever) and possibly an aortic repair (or replacement). Instead, a bovine valve was done for the mitral and a repair of the tricuspid. He said after surgery that nothing he would do for the aortic would improve its’ function more. So left that one alone. Of course, I had complete faith in my surgeon to do the best surgery for me and he did.

  • Charles Grech

    Dear Adam,
    Thanks for your Blog, I find it very interesting and helpful.
    Nine years ago my aortic valve been replaced with a mechanical one, I was then 58 years old and the op was a success, now I’m in trouble again, this time with the mitral valve (stenosed) and I need a baloon valvotomy to open the valve. Do you know anyone whose been to the same situation as I am. Is this second intervention with the heart dangerous?

    Thanks again

    C Grech

  • Nancy

    Eva, just wanted you to know that I am living with a tricuspid valve that is rated at a 3+ out of 4 ( 4=totally open). I had aortic valve replacement in Nov 2008 and at the time ended up with fluid in the lining of my lungs. Somehow during the first week of recovery, the extra fluid caused my tricuspid valve to weaken and stop working entirely. I was on alot of diuretics during the first 6 months of recovery and am now off them completly. The tricuspid valve is not causing me any problems right now and is still rated at 3+ for being open and regurgitating. I am hopeful that it will not cause any problems and when/if I need my bovine aortic replacement, I will get the tricuspid fixed at that time. Otherwise, I cross my figures. I keep very active and have been in excellent health since my valve replacement. I am aware that they can do the ring around the tricuspid valve and am aware that it can be performed without open heart surgey. I always keep that option open if any problems develop. Good luck to you.

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