What is PIG Valve?
Pig valve is a kind of biological valve used while performing “Valve Replacement” surgeries. Valve Replacement surgery, which is an alternative to valve repair, is performed by replacing one or more heart valves with either by a biological or with an artificial valve. Biological heart valves are also known as bioprosthetic, which is performed by using animal tissues or organs, which are known as xenograft, most commonly from pigs. The xenografts needed for the procedure are actual tissues from the pig’s heart. Although other animals like cow valves can also be used while performing these surgeries, still pig valves are the most common among them.
Pig valve transplant is performed, under extreme care and treatment. The whole process, right from the slaughterhouse, to the measurements of the organs, to the treatment of those organs and also the tissues, to the stitching and the testing of those organs, is done with a lot of care and safety to keep it germ-free. To get the pig valve ready for transplant, it takes an average of about four weeks for it to transform. The pig valves before being transplanted are trimmed first and then, after which they are fixed in buffered glutaraldehyde at high pressure. A polytetrafluoroethylene cloth is used to cover up the bottom of the valve, which helps to facilitate the healing and also helps in the ingrowth of the tissues around the implanted valve. Pig valves have less longevity as compared to mechanical valves. The average life span of pig valves is between ten to fifteen years and must be replaced every fifteen years. Hence, younger patients are given a mechanical valve. Mechanical valves have a life expectancy of about sixty years.
How do PIG Valves work?
Pig valve after transplant does the same work as what the earlier human valve used to perform. As we know, the heart has four valves, and all are one-way valves. The blood which enters the heart first passes through the tricuspid valve then it moves to the pulmonary valve. The blood, when returning from the lungs, passes through the mitral (bicuspid) valve and then exits through the aortic valve.
Pig valves due to its advantage of starting to heal the implanted region quickly after transplant and not needing any supplements or medicines after surgery to prevent blood clotting or any other bleeding side effects are more suitable for old or aged people.
Some major advantages and disadvantages of pig valves (also known as bioprosthetic) are –
- To prevent blood clots, patients are not required to use blood thinners.
- After surgery, they are not required to use Coumadin.
- There are no sounds of clicking from these valves. Hence, the patient cannot hear them.
- Pig valve transplant has been going on for a long time, and therefore everyone is familiar with it.
- The life span of these valves is between ten to fifteen years.
- It questions a matter of durability.
- Due to a short life span, a younger patient, if implanted with a bioprosthetic valve, may need to undergo another transplant in the future.