Mitral valves, including the papillary muscles, were harvested from freshly slaughtered sheep and implanted in 10 recipient growing sheep. A strip of ovine pericardium was used to reinforce the anulus and a patch of expanded polytetrafluoroethylene was used to cover the donor papillary muscle. In four valves the natural chordae tendineae at the anterior cusp were supported by two pairs of 5-0 expanded polytetrafluoroethylene sutures. At the beginning of the experiment two animals died early of valve incompetence. Another animal had to be put to death because of paraplegia after extracorporeal circulation and one died on postoperative day 41 of endocarditis. Six sheep were electively put to death, five after 153 ± 8 days and one after 43 days. At the time of follow-up, a complete hemodynamic study including echocardiography and stress testing was performed. Heart rate at rest was 91 ± 14 beats/min, left ventricular systolic pressure 96 ± 20 mm Hg, left ventricular end-diastolic pressure 11 ± 5 mm Hg, cardiac output 2.04 ± 0.40 L/min, and the mean transvalvular pressure gradient was 4.9 ± 2.8 mm Hg as measured by cardiac catheterization. Echocardiography showed excellent movement of all valve components. However, minor regurgitation was evident in one case. Gross morphologic characteristics showed good healing at the anulus and host papillary muscle; in one case there was a rupture of one small first-order chorda. On radiography no signs of calcification were evident. Light microscopy revealed minor to moderate collagen degeneration in all valve components. However, on electron microscopy the presence of numerous fibroblasts within the long-term implants indicated the biosynthesis of new collagen. In summary, allograft mitral valve replacement seems to be a promising procedure if the chordae tendineae are reinforced by expanded polytetrafluoroethylene sutures.
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Supported by a grant from the Deutsche Stiftung für Herzforschung, Frankfurt, Germany.
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