Decellularized extracellular matrix made from porcine small intestinal submucosa, commercially available as CorMatrix (CorMatrix Cardiovascular, Inc, Roswell, Ga) is used off-label to reconstruct heart valves. Recently, surgeons experienced failures and words of caution were raised. The aim of this study was to evaluate decellularized porcine small intestinal submucosa as right-sided heart valved conduit in a xenogeneic animal model.
A pulmonary valve replacement was performed with custom-made valved conduits in 10 lambs and 10 sheep (1 month [3 lambs and 3 sheep], 3 months [3 lambs and 3 sheep], 6 months [4 lambs and 4 sheep]). Valve function was assessed after implantation and before the animal was put to death. Explanted conduits were inspected macroscopically and analyzed using immunohistochemistry and scanning electron microscopy. They also underwent mechanical testing and testing for biochemical composition.
All valved conduits were successfully implanted. Five sheep and 2 lambs died due to congestive heart failure within 2 months after surgery. In the animals that died, the valve leaflets were thickened with signs of inflammation (endocarditis in 4). Five sheep and 8 lambs (1 month: 6 out of 6 animals, 3 months: 4 out of 6 animals, 6 months: 3 out of 8 animals) survived planned follow-up. At the time they were put to death, 5 lambs had significant pulmonary stenosis and 1 sheep showed severe regurgitation. A well-functioning valve was seen in 4 sheep and 3 lambs for up to 3 months. These leaflets showed limited signs of remodeling.
Fifty percent of sheep and 20% of lambs died due to valve failure before the planned follow-up period was complete. A well-functioning valve was seen in 35% of animals, albeit with limited signs of tissue remodeling at ≤3 months after implantation. Further analysis is needed to understand the disturbing dichotomous outcome before clinical application can be advised.
Full Access Link: Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery