A Long-term Porcine Model for Evaluation of Prosthetic Heart Valves
Background: Animal experimental testing is imperative for preclinical evaluation of prosthetic heart valves and implantation techniques. Because human and pig cardiovascular structures including mitral valves show remarkable anatomical similarity, these animals are good candidates for preclinical testing. Previous attempts to establish such long-term models were hampered by both intra- and postoperative difficulties. Our aim was to overcome these difficulties to develop a porcine model for mitral valve replacement (MVR) and furthermore to investigate the practical feasibility of 3 chordal reconstruction procedures.
Methods: Sixteen 60-kg pigs were allocated to undergo 1 of 3 surgical procedures, (1) preservation of the entire subvalvular apparatus (n = 8), (2) preservation of the secondary chordae only (n = 4), or (3) excision of the native valve and papillary resuspension with sutures (n = 4). St. Jude Medical valves (29 mm) were implanted during extracorporeal circulation and cold cardioplegic arrest. Postoperative anticoagulation was administered by subcutaneous heparin injections.
Results: Fourteen animals survived 1 month, thriving and without signs of heart failure. One animal was euthanized due to irreversible bleeding in the tracheal tube, and another animal died on the third postoperative day owing to valve thrombosis.
Conclusion: A practically feasible long-term porcine model of MVR has been established. Because the pig is superior to other species with respect to anatomical and physiological similarity to humans, we consider this model as an optimal platform for experimental preclinical testing of heart valve prostheses.
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