Long-term evaluation of prosthetic mitral valves in sheep

Eric Irwin, Greg Lang, Rose Clack, John St Cyr, Walter Runge, John Foker, Richard Bianco

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29 Scopus citations


We have developed an in vivo model for chronic evaluation of prosthetic heart valves using juvenile domestic sheep. This report summarizes the results of a study conducted to assess a new bileaflet prosthetic valve. Nine juvenile sheep underwent mitral valve replacement using standard cardiopulmonary bypass techniques including mild hemodilution, systemic hypothermia, and cold fibrillatory arrest. The average time on cardiopulmonary bypass was 57 min. There were no surgical or anesthetic complications. Two (22% early deaths occurred due to prosthetic annular size disproportion (1) and preexisting pneumonitis (1); postmortem examination of both implanted devices revealed normal function. The remaining seven animals (78% remained clinically well and underwent left and right heart catheterization, angiography, and sacrifice after the 150th postoperative day. Left ventriculograms demonstrated normal valve function in all cases. The average mitral transvalvular gradient, as determined by simultaneous pulmonary capillary wedge and left ventricular and diastolic pressure, was 5.4 mm Hg. Thus we have developed a new in vivo model that provides a successful model for chronic evaluation of prosthetic valves using a sheep model. There are several features contributing to the success of our model. First, to decrease the possibility of bacteremia and seeding of the prosthesis, a single incision is used and intraoperative monitoring lines minimized. Second, we use a short cardiopulmonary bypass run (range 52-62 min), with no period of ischemia. Third, fresh sheep blood is transfused immediately following bypass to prevent anemia. Fourth, gastric decompression is used to prevent ruminal bloating, with the resulting vena caval compression that decreases blood return while on bypass.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-141
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Investigative Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1993


  • Mitral valve
  • Sheep
  • Valve replacement


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