What is tricuspid valve stenosis?
Tricuspid valve stenosis, also known as tricuspid stenosis, is narrowing in the heart’s tricuspid valve. The tricuspid valve sits between the right atrium (upper chamber of the heart) and right ventricle (lower chamber of the heart) and prevents blood flow from returning into the right atrium from the right ventricle.
If left untreated, the right atrium can enlarge and affect the blood flow in the chambers and veins in the heart.
Causes of tricuspid valve stenosis
The most common cause of tricuspid valve stenosis is rheumatic fever, which develops from untreated strep throat.
Although it is rare, tricuspid valve stenosis can also occur during fetal development as a congenital heart defect, from a tumor or from connective tissue disorder.
Risk factors for tricuspid valve stenosis
Conditions that increase the likelihood of developing tricuspid valve stenosis include:
- Congenital heart disease — if your child has Ebstein’s anomaly, he or she is at greater risk of developing tricuspid stenosis.
- Rheumatic fever — if you had rheumatic fever as a child, you are at higher risk of developing tricuspid stenosis.
- Other heart conditions — history of heart disease, including a heart attack, heart failure or pulmonary hypertension, could put you at higher risk for developing valve disease later.
Symptoms of tricuspid valve stenosis
The most common symptoms of tricuspid valve stenosis are fluttering discomfort in the neck and an irregular heartbeat.
Other symptoms of tricuspid stenosis include:
- Cold skin
- Shortness of breath with activity
- Enlarged liver
Diagnosis of tricuspid valve stenosis
Tricuspid stenosis can be diagnosed in a physical exam with your doctor. With a stethoscope, your doctor may be able to hear a specific heart murmur associated with tricuspid stenosis.
- Echocardiogram — the most common test used to confirm and access the diagnosis of tricuspid stenosis.
- Electrocardiogram — can detect heart rhythm abnormalities, which are a sign of tricuspid valve stenosis.
- Chest x-ray — will take pictures of the heart to determine if there are heart abnormalities.
Treatment for tricuspid valve stenosis
Mild to moderate tricuspid stenosis may not need to be treated and can be closely monitored by your doctor.
If you have tricuspid stenosis in combination with other severe valve stenosis, your conditions need to be treated with a surgical valve repair or replacement.
Surgical treatments for tricuspid stenosis include:
- Balloon valvuloplasty — during a balloon valvuloplasty, a catheter with a deflated balloon on the end is inserted into the damaged tricuspid valve and once in position, the balloon is inflated to widen the valve.
- Tricuspid valve replacement — in severe cases, the tricuspid valve can be replaced with a tissue or mechanical valve.