Modified inferior vena caval anastomosis to reduce tricuspid valve regurgitation after heart transplantation

Document Type


Publication Date

January 2007


This article has been peer reviewed. It was published in the Texas Heart Institute Journal 34(1):30-35, 2007. It is freely available from PubMed Central at http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1847922.


Postoperative tricuspid valve regurgitation is moderate to severe in 15% to 20% of heart transplant recipients despite use of the bicaval surgical technique. We hypothesized that the regurgitation might be partly due to increased tension on the donor right atrium. To study the right atrial distortion, we modified the standard bicaval anastomosis. Our technique involves augmenting the donor right atrial anterior wall with a flap of the recipient's right atrium, which is left attached in continuity with the anterior aspect of the inferior vena cava along 65% of its circumference. We measured tricuspid regurgitation, right atrial area, and right atrioventricular diameter in 7 consecutive patients who underwent orthotopic heart transplantation with the modified anastomosis. Tricuspid regurgitation was graded as follows: 1 = trace, <10%; 2 = mild, 10%-24%; 3 = moderate, 25%-50%; and 4 = severe, >50%. All patients were weaned from inotropic support within 1 week after transplantation with excellent ventricular function, no heart block, and 100% survival at 30 days. The median follow-up time was 173 days (44-358 days). Other median measurements included tricuspid valve regurgitation jet area, 0.30 cm(2) (0-1.90 cm(2)); right atrial area, 15.90 cm(2) (14.47-18.00 cm(2)); atrioventricular diameter, 2.70 cm (2.63-3.09 cm); and tricuspid regurgitation, 1.67% (0-12.42%). Mild regurgitation occurred in 1 recipient; in all others, it was trace. The modified inferior vena caval anastomosis is simple and safe. It eliminates moderate and severe tricuspid valve regurgitation without routine annuloplasty after orthotopic heart transplantation via the bicaval technique.

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