OBJECTIVES: A thorough understanding of mitral and aortic valve motion dynamics is essential in mastering the skills necessary for performing successful valve intervention (open or transcatheter repair or replacement). We describe a reproducible and versatile beatingheart mitral and aortic valve assessment and valve intervention training model in human cadavers.
METHODS: The model is constructed by bilateral ligation of the pulmonary veins, ligation of the supra-aortic arteries, creating a shunt between the descending thoracic aorta and the left atrial appendage with a vascular prosthesis, anastomizing a vascular prosthesis to the apex and positioning an intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) in the vascular prosthesis, cross-clamping the descending thoracic aorta, and finally placing a fluid line in the shunt prosthesis. The left ventricle is filled with saline to the desired pressure through the fluid line, and the IABP is switched on and set to a desired frequency (usually 60-80 bpm). Prerepair valve dynamic motion can be studied under direct endoscopic visualization. After assessment, the IABP is switched off, and valve intervention training can be performed using standard techniques.
RESULTS: This high-fidelity simulation model has known limitations, but provides a realistic environment with an actual beating (human) heart, which is of incremental value. The model provides a unique opportunity to fill a beating heart with saline and to study prerepair mitral and aortic valve dynamic motion under direct endoscopic visualization.
CONCLUSIONS: The entire set-up provides a versatile beating-heart mitral and aortic valve assessment model, which may have important implications for future valve intervention training.