The evaluation of mechanical prosthetic heart valves would be aided by a more satisfactory animal model. For acute assessment, a variety of animals have been used, but for chronic studies, only larger animals (pigs, calves, baboons) have been employed, creating an expensive model with laboratory management difficulties. Previously, the use of dogs for chronic evaluation has been unsatisfactory because of the frequent occurrence of early sepsis and valve-related thrombotic deaths. We have modified our existing acute dog protocol to produce a successful chronic model. Our model employs perioperative systemic antibiotics, short cardiopulmonary bypass period (range 35-60 min), a minimum of perioperative intravenous lines, postoperative anticoagulation therapy, and strict postoperative antiseptic technique for blood sampling. To evaluate this model, 11 consecutive mongrel dogs underwent mitral valve replacement with either a standard Dacron sewing skirt or a newly devised carbon-coated Teflon sewing skirt No. 23 mm Bjork-Shiley Convexo Concave (CC) prosthetic valve. Nine animals (82%) survived and were evaluated after a predetermined observation interval of either 3 or 6 months for valve function, pannus formation, and possible carbon particle migration. At sacrifice, all animals had good hemodynamics and valve function, minimal pannus formation and no carbon washout. Consequently, this model provides a relatively inexpensive, reproducible method of chronic in vivo evaluation of prosthetic valve modifications.
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