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What are the types of heart valves?

The two most common types of donated heart valves are the:

  • Aortic valve
  • Pulmonary valve

What are donated heart valves (heart valve donations) used for?

Donated heart valves are used in two main types of procedures:

  • Heart Valve Replacement Surgery; and
  • Reconstructive Cardiac Surgery

Image credit: OpenStax College [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

How are donated heart valves used?

  • Heart Valve Replacement Surgery: Donated heart valves are used to replace absent, damaged, diseased, or malfunctioning heart valves in infants, children, and adults.
    • For example:
      • Patients who can't take blood thinners, such as women of childbearing age and athletes or patients with active lifestyles;
      • Infants, children, or adults with heart valves that are too small for other types of replacement heart valves;
      • Patients with endocarditis, an infection of the heart valves or tissues.
  • Reconstructive Cardiac Surgery: Donated heart valves are flexible and can be tailored to fit and repair a patient’s unique anatomy. Donor valves can also be made into cardiac patches that are used to repair and reconstruct heart defects in infants, children, and adults with congenital or acquired heart disease.
    • For example:
      • Cardiac patches are often used to repair life-threatening heart defects in infants and children born with congenital heart disease.
      • Reconstruction of the right ventricular outflow tract in infants, children, and adults undergoing the Ross procedure.

What are the benefits of using donated heart valves?

The benefits of donated heart valves include:

  • Decreased risk of infection compared to other types of replacement heart valves
  • Do not require use of blood thinners/anticoagulation
  • Decreased risk of blood clots
  • Flexible and can be made into patches to repair heart defects
  • Improved hemodynamics/blood flow