Tricuspid atresia


Tricuspid atresia is a serious congenital heart disease caused by the failure of the tricuspid valve of the heart to develop. It occurs when solid tissue replaces the tricuspid valve. This strip of tissue prevents blood from flowing correctly from the right atrium to the right ventricle. With this, the body does not receive adequate oxygen. This condition is also known as tricuspid valve atresia or TV atresia.

Normally, the tricuspid valve connects two chambers on the right side of your heart: the right atrium (upper chamber) and the right ventricle (lower chamber). Tricuspid atresia occurs when solid tissue replaces the tricuspid valve. Due to this obstruction, the right ventricle is often smaller and undeveloped.

Tricuspid atresia prevents enough blood from passing through the heart and into the lungs, where it would receive oxygen. As a result, the lungs are unable to give adequate oxygen to the rest of their body. People with this condition fatigue quickly and are frequently out of breath. Their skin and lips could seem blue or gray.

Although there is no definite cure for tricuspid atresia. Several surgeries at various ages may improve a baby’s heart function. Many people survive surgery and reach adulthood. If the operations do not help or their heart fails to function properly, a heart transplant can be performed.


The symptoms of tricuspid atresia are experienced immediately or within a week after birth. Most babies may experience:

  • Cyanosis or lips and skin that are bluish in color.
  • Breathing problems
  • Quick exhaustion, particularly during feeding
  • Delayed development and not gaining adequate weight.

Symptoms of heart failure are also common in babies with tricuspid atresia, such as:

  • Tiredness and lack of strength
  • Breathing difficulties and rapid breathing
  • Rapid weight increase due to fluid retention
  • Legs, ankles, and foot swelling
  • Ascites or swelling in the abdomen

Consult a healthcare provider if you notice any symptoms in your baby, particularly changes in their skin tone, difficulty breathing, slow growth, or poor weight gain. Immediate consultation may help to prevent complications from developing. In most cases, severe congenital cardiac abnormalities are detected before or shortly after birth.


Although there are documented risk factors for tricuspid atresia, the specific cause is unknown. Congenital heart disorders begin when a fetus is still in the uterus while the heart is developing.

Tricuspid atresia is a congenital heart disorder in which the tricuspid valve does not exist. Blood cannot flow normally from the upper to lower chambers on the right side of the heart without this valve. Instead, blood travels directly from the right upper chamber of the heart to the left upper chamber via a hole in the wall between them. The hole is either a congenital cardiac defect known as an atrial septal defect or a naturally occurring opening known as the foramen ovale.

A patent foramen ovale occurs when the foramen ovale fails to close after birth. Some newborns with tricuspid atresia may have an additional opening between the two lower chambers of the heart, which is called a ventricular septal defect or VSD. Blood can flow through this opening and into the right ventricle, where it is then pumped into the lungs. When blood flows through these abnormal channels, high-oxygen and low-oxygen blood can mix, which does not occur in a normal heart. If the VSD is large, too much blood may flow to the lungs, leading to cardiac failure.

Generally, the flow of blood is determined by whether or not there are any other structural issues with the heart. In some babies with tricuspid atresia, blood flows from the left lower heart chamber into the body’s major artery, the aorta. The blood then travels to the lungs via a temporary connection known as the ductus arteriosus, which usually closes after birth.

Risk factors

Tricuspid atresia is a complex congenital heart condition that, while rare, is still one of the more prevalent types. It affects approximately 1 in every 10,000 newborns, without any significant difference between genders.

There are certain risk factors associated with tricuspid atresia. Individuals with Down syndrome or a parent who had a congenital heart abnormality are more prone to develop tricuspid atresia or another congenital heart condition.

Additional risk factors include having a birthing parent who:

  • Had a viral disease during the first trimester of pregnancy, such as German measles
  • Congenital heart disease in the family
  • Drank alcohol excessively when pregnant
  • Use tobacco prior to or during pregnancy
  • Had diabetes that was poorly managed during pregnancy
  • Taken certain drugs, such as anti-seizure, acne, or bipolar disorder medications while pregnant