Are Pig Valves Still Used In Human Hearts?

The use of replacing an aortic valve in a human being arises when you are suffering from aortic valve disease. Due to the illness, it becomes difficult for the heart to pump out the needed blood to the rest of the body. In many cases, the dysfunction of the valve reflects the pumping back into the heart causing a life-threatening situation.

Are Pig Valves Still Used In Human Hearts?

Are Pig Valves Still Used In Human Hearts?

The recommended treatment in case of aortic valve disease is to replace the valve. The replacement requires surgery, and the surgeon replaces it with a mechanical valve or tissue valve manufactured from animals, especially pig and cow. The improvement in the medicinal field proved that using tissue valve extracted from the pig’s heart is a better choice than the mechanical valve.

The aortic valve present on the pig’s heart has a close resemblance to that of the human heart. However, the surgeon does not replace the valve directly. It undergoes immunologic treatment that helps in preserving the tissue and prevent reactions after replacing in a patient.

Longevity of a Pig’s Aortic Valve

When compared to that of the mechanical valve, the durability of the pig’s aortic valve has a lifespan of 15 years. The dependency on the functionality of the replaced aortic valve with the pig’s aortic valve depends on the position and the overall health factor of the individual. It includes age, gender, lifestyle, and other medical treatments.

The benefit that the patient receives is that they no longer have to use blood thinner medication. On the other hand, for those who are using the mechanical aortic valve, they will have to continue with the blood thinner medication for their entire lifespan.

Choosing Between Pig Valve And Mechanical Valve

As the lifespan of the pig valve is to a maximum of 15 years, it becomes difficult for younger patients to opt for the same. In addition to it, choosing it is also dependent on the health condition of the patient. In such cases, the younger patients opt for mechanical valves. However, they will be using blood thinner medication to ensure a free flow of the blood pumped by the heart.

Functional Requirements For Choosing Pig Valve

  • Minimal regurgitation
  • Minimal transvalvular pressure gradient
  • Non-thrombogenic
  • Self-repairing
  • Rapid dynamic response


To ensure full compatibility of the pig’s valve in the human system, researchers are modifying the gene system by removing some of the pig genes and replacing them with human genes. The genetic engineering with the use of immune-suppressing drugs, it is possible to attain the right balance for performing the surgery and making the transplantation a successful operation.

The Future

With the advancement in the medical field along with the research involved in the replacement of damaged aortic valve with that of the pig, the future looks bright. Pigs will be the alternative source for organ replacements, especially in the field of heart transplants and aortic valve replacement.

The availability of the pig’s valve will reduce the gap between the demand and supply for the requirement of an aortic valve. With further advancement in the future, it is possible for researchers to increase the lifespan of the pig’s valve. It will help in reduction of utilizing mechanical valves. The step helps in ending the use of blood thinner medicines.

The surgery

Replacing an aortic valve with that of the pig’s valve requires the patient to undergo open heart surgery. The operation has its share of risk, and therefore, the surgeon calculates all the aspects and conducts several tests.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:October 11, 2018

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