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Unique among the many options now available for aortic valve surgery are the very old, but still useful "human" valve options, including the aortic homograft and the pulmonary autograft (Ross procedure) alternatives. Having reviewed the subject more than 20 years ago,1 it is interesting to note how some things have changed but much has remained the same. Table 34-1 summarizes advantages and disadvantages of current replacement options.

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Table 34-1 Comparison of Mechanical and Tissue Alternatives for Aortic Valve Replacement

The first choice for aortic valve replacement was the homograft aortic valve. Gordon Murray created an animal model to implant an aortic homograft valve in the descending aorta2 and was the first to apply the concept in the human demonstrating function for up to 4 years.3


Duran and Gunning at Oxford described a method for orthotopic (subcoronary) implantation of an aortic homograft valve in 1962,4 and in 1962 both Donald Ross in London5 and Sir Brian Barratt-Boyes in Auckland6 did this successfully in humans.


Initially, homograft aortic valves were implanted shortly after collection.7 This impractical method was rapidly supplanted by techniques to sterilize and preserve the valve for later use. Early methods employed beta-propiolactone6,8 or 0.02% chlorhexidine,9 followed by ethylene oxide9 or radiation exposure.10 Some were preserved by freeze-drying.6,11 Recognizing that the incidence of valve rupture was high in chemically treated valves, Barratt-Boyes introduced antibiotic sterilization of homografts in 1968.12 Cryopreservation of homografts was introduced in 1975 by O'Brien and continues to be the predominant method.13,15 Experimental use of autologous valve transplantation began in 1961 when Lower and colleagues at Stanford transposed the autologous pulmonic valve to the mitral position in dogs14 and shortly thereafter to the aortic position.15 Donald Ross applied this to humans, reporting in 1967 clinical experience replacing either the aortic or mitral valve with a pulmonary autograft.16 Nearly 20 years later the autograft was finally done in America by Elkins and Stelzer.17 The operation came to be known as the Ross procedure. After an initial surge of interest in the 1990s (more than 240 surgeons worldwide reported their experience to the Ross Procedure ...

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