Healing Your Own Heart Valves

Those engineered from a patient's tissue can repair damage

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WEDNESDAY, Nov. 12, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Using heart valves that are engineered from a patient's own tissue may offer a new and better treatment option for people with valvular heart disease.

That's what German researchers reported Nov. 12 at the American Heart Association's annual conference in Orlando, Fla.

"Using this tissue-engineered valve overcomes many of the problems with mechanical or donor valves because it is a living structure from the patient's own tissue, and so it does not cause an immunological reaction," researcher Dr. Pascal M. Dohmen, head of tissue engineering research at Charit Hospital in Berlin, says in a prepared statement.

The study included 23 patients, average age 44, with aortic heart disease. Dohman and his colleagues engineered new pulmonary valves from the patients' own cells. In each patient, they moved the original healthy pulmonary valve into the aortic position, replacing the defective aortic valve.

They then implanted the engineered pulmonary valve into the right ventricular outflow tract, where the original healthy pulmonary valve had been located.

They did three years of follow-up on the patients and described the engineered valves' performance as "excellent."

Echocardiography revealed the valves were functioning normally. The valve flaps appeared smooth and pliable, and they showed no signs of calcification.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about heart valves.

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Nov. 12, 2003

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