OBJECTIVES: Residual regurgitation is common after congenital surgery for right ventricular outflow tract malformation. It is accepted as there is no competent valve solution in a growing child. We investigated a new surgical technique of trileaflet semilunar valve reconstruction possessing the potential of remaining sufficient and allowing for some growth with the child. In this proof-of-concept study, our aim was to evaluate if it is achievable as a functional pulmonary valve reconstruction in vitro.
METHODS: Explanted pulmonary trunks from porcine hearts were evaluated in a pulsatile flow-loop model. First, the native pulmonary trunk was investigated, after which the native leaflets were explanted. Then, trileaflet semilunar valve reconstruction was performed and investigated. All valves were initially investigated at a flow output of 4 l/min and subsequently at 7 l/min. The characterization was based on hydrodynamic pressure and echocardiographic measurements.
RESULTS: Eight pulmonary trunks were evaluated. All valves are competent on colour Doppler. There is no difference in mean pulmonary systolic artery pressure gradient at 4 l/min (P = 0.32) and at 7 l/min (P = 0.20). Coaptation length is increased in the neo-valve at 4 l/min (P < 0.001, P < 0.001, P = 0.008) and at 7 l/min (P < 0.001, P = 0.006, P = 0.006). A windmill shape is observed in all neo-valves.
CONCLUSIONS: Trileaflet semilunar valve reconstruction is sufficient and non-stenotic. It resulted in an increased coaptation length and a windmill shape, which is speculated to decrease with the growth of the patient, yet remains sufficient as a transitional procedure until a long-term solution is feasible. Further in vivo investigations are warranted.