The tricuspid valve is located between the right atrium and the right ventricle. It closes to prevent regurgitation (leaking) of blood into the right atrium when the right ventricle contracts to propel deoxygenated blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen.
The tricuspid valve often begins to leak secondary to other heart valve disease from a dilated heart and high pulmonary artery pressure. It can also become diseased from endocarditis (infection), often resulting from IV drug use or indwelling lines or catheters.
Symptoms are related to heart failure: shortness of breath, fatigue, weight gain, palpitations and ankle swelling.
If you have symptoms, your physician may order a variety of tests, but the most definitive method of diagnosis is echocardiography. An echocardiogram evaluates the valves, chambers and function of the heart.
The tricuspid valve is usually treated surgically in conjunction with another heart valve as it is usually secondarily involved, unless it has become infected (endocarditis). Repair involves open heart surgery utilizing the heart–lung machine. It is typically repaired unless the leaflets are destroyed by infection, which usually requires replacement.