Tricuspid Atresia

The treatment for tricuspid atresia is palliative. This means that your child’s heart cannot be made to work like a normal heart, but it can be made to work better (palliated).


Your child will need medicine to keep the ductus arteriosus open, and hence improve the blood flow to the lungs, as soon as they are born.

BT Shunt

Your child may need a shunt (connection) to increase the amount of blood getting to the lungs. This is done soon after birth by connecting a tube from an artery in the arm to the pulmonary arteries. This operation may be carried out through the side of the chest, while the heart is beating, or through the front using a heart lung bypass machine (open heart surgery).


Your child will need further surgery to improve the amount of blue blood travelling to the lungs to get oxygen. Depending on your child’s condition, this may be:

  • A Glenn / Bi-directional Glenn - this involves making a passage between the superior vena cava (the big vein bringing blue blood from the upper body to the heart) to the right pulmonary artery. This will let a much larger amount of blue blood flow into the lungs where it can get oxygen; or
  • A Fontan procedure - this operation joins the inferior vena cava (vein bringing blue blood from the lower body to the heart) to the pulmonary arteries. This means that all blood returning to the heart from the body is forced to pass through the lungs where it can get oxygen.

Both of these operations involve open heart surgery, which means that the heart will need to be stopped and opened to repair it. During the operation, a machine called the heart bypass machine will take over the job that the heart and lungs normally do.

More about Tricuspid Atresia

Author(s): Children’s Heart Federation
Last updated: 2009-12-09