Background and aim of the study: Significant tricuspid regurgitation (TR) can contribute to increased morbidity and mortality in patients after mitral valve replacement (MVR), both in the immediate and late postoperative period. The aim of this study was to evaluate the prevalence and the clinical importance of TR late after MVR, as assessed both clinically and echocardiographically.
Methods: The study group comprised 65 patients (39 women, 26 men; mean age 61+/-12 years) with rheumatic heart disease who had undergone MVR without tricuspid valve surgery between one and 30 years (mean 11.3+/-8 years) before their last clinical examination. All patients underwent a complete color-Doppler echocardiographic examination. The predominant presurgical mitral lesion was stenosis in 44 patients and regurgitation in 21. The severity of the tricuspid valve disease was assessed echocardiographically using color-Doppler flow images and flow direction in the inferior vena cava or hepatic veins, and by clinical evaluation.
Results: Echocardiography revealed significant late TR in 44 patients (67%), which was moderate in 16 and severe in 28, and evident on physical examination in 24 cases (37%). Age (relative risk (RR) = 1.1; C.I. 1-1.1) and female sex (RR = 1.8; C.I. = 1.0-3.2) were identified as statistically significant predictors for late clinical TR development, but only age was found as a statistically significant predictor for echocardiographic TR development. An elevated RR for organic TR and predominant mitral regurgitation was found. In contrast, pre- and postoperative pulmonary artery pressure, predominant mitral lesion, prosthetic valve gradient and regurgitation were similar in patients with and without late TR.
Conclusions: Significant TR diagnosed by echocardiography late after MVR is common, and clinically evident in more than one-third of patients. Therefore, a lower threshold for tricuspid valve repair should be considered when mitral valve surgery is carried out.