A clinical trial by Abbott has provided promising results for patients with leaking tricuspid valves. The trial tested a procedure which involves clipping the floppy tricuspid valve to make it smaller and better able to function, and found that it stopped much of the leakage and allowed many patients who had been debilitated by symptoms to get their lives back. The procedure does not require a risky open-heart surgery, and has a mortality risk of less than one percent for these very sick patients, with an average one day hospital stay. While the procedure did not extend life, it did improve quality of life, with patients experiencing less fatigue, abdominal distention, and swollen limbs.
A different approach is being tested by Edwards Lifesciences, which involves replacing the tricuspid valve by threading a new valve into the heart. If successful and given regulatory approval, patients may have a dilemma over which procedure to choose, as the clip would impede the process of pushing the old valve aside.
The developments come after years of inattention to the tricuspid problem, as cardiologists had assumed that if they fixed problems on the left side of the heart, the tricuspid valve would fix itself. While the results of the clinical trial offer hope for those affected by tricuspid leakage, further study is needed to determine the long-term effects of the treatment.