Pulmonary autograft valve replacement has been simulated by implanting the pulmonary valve into the aortic position of the same cadaver heart from both human and porcine sources. The forces acting on the pulmonary valve leaflets have been calculated on the basis of a triaxial ellipsoid mathematical model. These forces on the pulmonary autograft valve were shown to be essentially similar to those previously reported for aortic valve leaflets. Biomechanical measurements have been made on the simulated autograft valves and on the isolated pulmonary valve cusps. The tensile strengths of the pulmonary valve cusps in both circumferential and radial directions were roughly three times greater than those of aortic valve cusps. This indicated the ability of the pulmonary valves to accept, ab initio, aortic valve closing pressures. Pressure-induced changes in dimension, calculated on the basis of diameters of the simulated pulmonary autograft root, also indicated that the distensibility of the autograft valve was limited. It reached a maximum at 30 mm Hg (4 kPa) without any suggestion of further distension to the point of distortion and incompetence. The combination of the calculated forces acting on the valve and the biomechanical measurements have shown that pulmonary valves used as autograft aortic valve replacements are able to tolerate aortic pressures from the time of implantation. These experimental results from simulated autografts support the clinical use of this valve over the past 13 years.
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