Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Before birth

Because of advances in ultrasound technology, it's possible for a baby to be diagnosed with tricuspid atresia before he or she is born. Doctors can usually identify the condition on a routine ultrasound exam during gestation.

After birth

After your baby is born, his or her doctor may suspect a heart defect, such as tricuspid atresia, if your baby has blue-tinged skin or is having trouble breathing.

Your baby's doctor may also suspect a heart defect if he or she hears a heart murmur when listening to your baby's heart using a stethoscope during a physical exam. A heart murmur is an abnormal whooshing sound caused by turbulent blood flow.

If tricuspid atresia is suspected, your baby's doctor may order tests including:

  • Echocardiogram. Doctors usually use an echocardiogram to diagnose tricuspid atresia and to rule out other heart conditions that could be causing reduced or increased blood flow to the lungs. This test uses sound waves that bounce off your baby's heart to produce moving images your baby's doctor can view on a video screen.

    In a baby with tricuspid atresia, the echocardiogram reveals the absence of a tricuspid valve and a smaller than normal right ventricle. Because this test tracks blood flow, it can also measure the amount of blood moving through holes in the walls between the right and left sides of the heart and blood flow to the lungs.

    In addition, an echocardiogram can identify associated heart defects, such as an atrial septal defect, a patent foramen ovale, transposition of the great arteries or a ventricular septal defect.

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG). An electrocardiogram records the electrical activity of the heart, and it can determine whether the heart's chambers are enlarged.
  • Pulse oximetry. This test measures how much oxygen is in your baby's blood. A sensor is placed over the end of your baby's finger to record the amount of oxygen in your baby's blood.
  • Chest X-ray. A chest X-ray may show whether the heart and heart chambers are enlarged. It can also show the blood flow in the lungs.
  • Cardiac catheterization. In this test, a thin, flexible tube (catheter) is inserted into a blood vessel at your child's groin and guided through it into the heart. This test is rarely used to diagnose tricuspid atresia. However, doctors may order the test to examine the heart prior to surgery to treat tricuspid atresia.
Aug. 15, 2015