Pulmonic (pulmonary) regurgitation is leakage of blood backward through the pulmonary valve each time the right ventricle relaxes.
Abnormally high blood pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension) is the most common cause of pulmonic regurgitation. Much less common causes are infection of the valve (infective endocarditis), pulmonary artery enlargement, a birth defect of the valve, or surgery to repair a heart defect.
Pulmonic regurgitation usually causes no symptoms. Sometimes people develop swollen ankles or fatigue.
Often pulmonic regurgitation is detected during an examination done for some other reason. Through a stethoscope, doctors may hear a characteristic murmur produced by the blood leaking backward through the pulmonic valve. Echocardiography (see see Echocardiography and Other Ultrasound Procedures) can produce an image of the leaky valve and the amount of blood leaking, so that the severity of the regurgitation can be determined.
The condition causing pulmonic regurgitation is treated. Treatment may involve taking drugs such as sildenafil or bosentan to reduce pulmonary hypertension. Very rarely, the pulmonary valve must be replaced.
Last full review/revision March 2013 by Guy P. Armstrong, MD