Tri-leaflet polyurethane heart valves have been considered as a potential candidate in heart valve replacement surgeries. In this study, polyurethane (Angioflex(®)) heart valve prostheses were fabricated using a solvent-casting method to evaluate their calcification resistance. These valves were subjected to accelerated life testing (continuous opening and closing of the leaflets) in a synthetic calcification solution. Results showed that Angioflex(®) could be considered as a potential material for fabricating prosthetic heart valves with possibly a higher calcification resistance compared to tissue valves. In addition, calcification resistance of bisphosphonate-modified Angioflex(®) valves was also evaluated. Bisphosphonates are considered to enhance the calcification resistance of polymers once covalently bonded to the bulk of the material. However, our in-vitro results showed that bisphosphonate-modified Angioflex(®) valves did not improve the calcification resistance of Angioflex(®) compared to its untreated counterparts. The results also showed that cyclic loading of the valves' leaflets resulted in formation of numerous cracks on the calcified surface, which were not present when calcification study did not involve mechanical loading. Further study of these cracks did not result in enough evidence to conclude whether these cracks have penetrated to the polymeric surface.
Keywords: Angioflex; Calcification; Heart valve; Polyurethane.
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