A histological and radioautographic examination of 11 autologous fascia lata heart valves used in man is described. There was a significant decrease, exponential with time, in the number of fibroblasts per unit volume (P<0·001). The collagen bundles were grossly disorganized and separated, suggesting a breakdown of the cross-linkage in the tissue. Redundant connective tissue on the surface of the valve cusp became oedematous and contained many trapped cells. A pseudoendothelium was formed within 10 days. Incorporation of tritium-labelled thymidine in the nuclei of the fibroblasts showed a sixfold reduction over 9 to 12 weeks following implantation, suggesting a failure of metabolism in these cells. The suitability of fascia lata for human heart valve replacement is discussed.
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