The Body Synthetic
  Winter 2008

  Dr. D. Jaron
  Dr. P. Lelkes
  Dr. R. Seliktar

  Shuk-Man Charli Hon
  Richard Gerbino
  Natalie Gostola

  The human heart is divided into four chambers.  These chambers are separated from each other and the rest of the circulatory system by valves.  The valves open and close as the heart beats to allow blood to flow in only one direction.  Diseases, age, and birth defects may cause the valves to stop working properly.  A defective heart valve does not open or close fully, which can cause serious problems.  Some defective heart valves can be treated with surgery or drugs, but others need to be replaced.

  Heart valves can be replaced with mechanical heart valves or tissue heart valves.  Mechanical heart valves are made from synthetic materials that can be put into the body.  There are several designs of mechanical heart valves that all operate differently.  Tissue heart valves are real heart valves taken from another person or even other animals.  Tissue heart valves are commonly taken or made from porcine and bovine heart tissues.  Mechanical heart valves can be superior to tissue valves because they will not wear out over time.

heart
A superior view of the heart showing the four valves.  The aortic valve is most commonly replaced.
  valve
An aortic valve taken from a pig designed for human implantation
 
diagram
The heart. Arrows indicate direction of blood flow.

 

Created: February 17, 2008