For some children with congenital heart disease, artificial heart valves that maintain healthy blood flow are a cruel reality in their early lives. This requires not only direct heart surgery to initially implant the device, but also repeated high-risk surgery every few years as their body grows to replace them. Researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital have been working to develop a full-size all-around solution and have come up with designs that they believe can work in a variety of diameters and can be adjusted as needed without invasive surgery.
According to the American Heart Association, about nine out of every 1,000 babies have congenital heart disease, making it one of the most common congenital malformations. This may mean abnormal valves in the heart wall, near the arteries and veins or in the regulated organs that regulate blood flow inside and outside the organ.
When a child is born with a heart valve defect, surgeons can implant artificial heart valves to restore healthy function to the organs, but the diameter of these heart valves is fixed, meaning they need to be replaced regularly. According to Boston Children’s Hospital, children who undergo artificial valve surgery before the age of two must undergo at least five direct heart surgery before they reach adulthood.
The artificial heart valves used today have a set of three valves that work together to control blood flow in either direction. To find a better way, the researchers analyzed the valvefound in the deep vein, which has only two valves that maintain blood flow even as the veins expand as the amount of blood increases.
Sophie C. Hofferberth, who led the study, said: “The veins carry about 70 percent of our blood. The size of the veins can vary greatly depending on the position of the human body, but the valve must remain functional. We imitated the geometry of the human venous valve and designed a program-sized double-leaf valve that adapts to growth without losing one-way blood flow control. “
The team evaluated the valve in laboratory tests and animal models and, after extending to various sizes, was shown to be fully functional with full yedges and blood flow. In human patients, scientists believe that the prosthetics can be extended as needed through the airbag catheterization method, which they describe as minimally invasive.
In addition to sustained, healthy blood flow, the experiment also demonstrated that artificial valves minimize the risk of blood clots. The researchers, who tested the growing sheep model, did not observe no signs of blood clotting for 10 weeks, usually with blood-thinning drugs commonly used by traditional artificial valve recipients.
“The disadvantage of many existing devices is that there is a flow interruption that leads to blood clot formation and deterioration of early valves,” Hofferberth said. Our design achieves good flow characteristics and seems to help effectively flush the valve to minimize flow stagnation, which is likely to be an important determinant of long-term equipment durability. “With these exciting early results, the team is now looking to human trials that could start in a year or two.
“We hope to put this new device into clinical testing quickly,” said Dr. Pedro J. del Nido, president of Cardiovascular Surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital. This could change this area if our preclinical results are validated in human testing. “
The study was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.