The average life span of a cow’s valve is 10 to 15 years. According to the studies, those who get their aortic valves replaced with cows’ valve need to get the replacement done again in about 10 to 15 years, especially the young patients. In some cases, the cow’s valve may last up to 20 years.
To know more about the longevity of the cow’s valve, firstly it is important to know about the use of it. The aorta is the largest blood vessel of the body and supplies blood to the whole body. The aortic valve is the valve between the ventricle and the aorta, which prevents back flow of the blood from the heart to the aorta. When there’s a defect in the aortic valve, it does not function properly and this exerts extra pressure on the heart. This results in the weakening of the heart muscles. Generally two types of aortic defects are seen:
Aortic Regurgitation: It is a condition in which the valve does not close properly, so there is a back flow of or leakage of blood. This results in improper blood supply to the whole body and extra pressure on the heart.
Aortic Stenosis: In this condition, the aortic valve does not opens properly so the required amount of blood does not reaches the aorta, resulting in increased pressure on the heart.
Cow Valve Replacement Surgery
Whenever there is any kind of disturbance in the aortic valve, it cannot be treated only with medication. Here arises the need of a valve replacement. There is an option of selecting a biological valve or a mechanical or artificial valve. The patient is given general anesthesia so that there is no pain sensation. The incision of about 20 to 25 cm long is made and breastbone is divided. The heart’s activity is stopped for sometime so that the valve replacement can be done effectively. During this time, the aorta is connected to an artificial pump to ensure proper blood supply to the whole body.
The biological valve can be made out of human tissues, which is known as Autograft. Luckily, the tissue physiology of some animals is similar to that of humans, therefore a cow’s or pig’s tissues are also used for creating valves, known as Xenograft.
A cow’s valve or a pig’s tissues is a popular choice for the aortic valve replacement. Out of the two, cow’s valves are more commonly used. They are first treated chemically to make them compatible with the human body. Generally after the chemical treatment, the human body responds positively because the composition of the tissues becomes compatible.
In case of pig’s valve the actual valve is used after processing, but in case of cow, the actual valves are not used. The tissues are extracted from the pericardial sack of the cow’s heart using a very sophisticated manufacturing process. The tissues are then converted to proper shaped valves and used for aortic valve replacement.
Choices for Aortic Valve Replacement
Some people also go for the mechanical or the artificial valves which are made out of fiber or metal. The artificial valves are more durable and longer lasting as compared to the biological valves (cow’s or pig’s valves). The cow’s valve has a life span of only about 10 to 15 years and is more prone to calcification. The mechanical or artificial valve or the other hand have a higher longevity and need not to be replaced once they are fitted. It is a good choice for the young patients.
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