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Union Hospital performs world's first novel cellular pulmonary valve replacement surgery

Dec 22, 2023

On December 7, 13-year-old Yueyue, a patient with congenital heart disease, came back to Union Hospital, Tongji Medical College for reexamination after her valve replacement surgery that used a new valve material called Buxin.” It was the first successful surgery of novel cellular pulmonary valve replacement in the world. The valve used in this pioneering surgery was developed by Professor Dong Nianguo and his team at the Cardiovascular Surgery Department. For more than 20 years, Professor Dong and his team have been constantly trying to tackle the durability problems of traditional biological valves.

She cried without sounds. She had blue lips and fingers, and she had cramps from time to time.” According to the child’s mother, when Yueyue was one year old, she was diagnosed with tetralogy of Fallot (TOF), a type of congenital heart disease. In the same year, her symptoms were relieved after surgery. But in recent years, she often lost her appetite, became short of breath and could not walk.

In May 2023, Yueyue was emergently sent to the Cardiovascular Surgery Department of Union Hospital. After examination, she was diagnosed with a serious condition, and surgery was needed immediately.

“The novel cellular valve has excellent biomechanical properties. It can remodel and repair tissues, and is not prone to calcify or decay, which is conducive to the recovery of pulmonary valve functions of the young patient, explained Professor Dong.

On May 29, more than ten medical workers from multiple departments worked together to make sure that Yueyue’s surgery would go well. Professor Dong took the right ventricular outflow tract as the main approach to the puncture point, sending the lotus-shaped cellular pulmonary valve into Yue’s pulmonary artery through a thin interventional guide wire. The whole surgery only took five minutes. The patient recovered well after the surgery and her heart function significantly improved according to her test results. Since the beginning of this year, seven novel cellular valve implantation surgeries have been done at Union Hospital.

Valve replacement is one of the main treatments for heart valve disease. At present, the biological valves used around the world are prone to calcify and decay. Meanwhile, options of valve materials for children are numbered, which cannot grow. This had been an unsolved problem in the international cardiovascular field for half a century.

As the first organization establishing a heart valve disease surgical center in China, the Cardiovascular Surgery Department of Union Hospital has completed more than 20,000 surgeries since 1978. Beginning to engage in research on heart valve replacement in 1999, Professor Dong set up the heart valve research laboratory of Union Hospital. After more than 20 years of painstaking efforts, his team successfully developed the world’s first cellular valve substitute.

In the future, the novel cellular valve substitute, which has altered existing biological valve preparation theories and process systems, is expected to facilitate fundamental changes in biological materials and promote the upgrade on biological valves in clinical practice around the world.

Written by: Guan Xinyu

Edited by: Zhang Mingyue, Chang Wen, Peng Yumeng

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