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Journal of Long-Term Effects of Medical Implants

ISSN Print: 1050-6934
ISSN Online: 1940-4379

Journal of Long-Term Effects of Medical Implants

DOI: 10.1615/JLongTermEffMedImplants.v11.i34.20
9 pages

Prosthetic Heart Valves: Why Biological?

Ulrich O. von Oppell
Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, 7925, South Africa
Peter Zilla
Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, 7925, South Africa

ABSTRACT

The replacement of heart valves only became feasible after the development of the heart—lung machine in 1953. Two groups of prosthetic heart valves were subsequently developed: biological valves that do not require anticoagulation and mechanical valves that require life-long anticoagulation with Coumadin. The incidence of heart surgery and the demographics of patients who require heart valve surgery vary worldwide; these factors influence the choice of prosthetic valve for the individual patient and are briefly reviewed. Improved biological tissue-fixation methods are also increasing the durability of biological prosthetic valves and will further favor the implantation of biological valves in the future.