Custom-made silicone heart valves

Researchers at ETH Zurich and the South African company SAT developed an artificial, tailor-made heart valve made of 3D-printed silicone. This could help meet the growing demand of an aging society for replacement heart valves.
Our heart consists of several chambers and atria, each of which is equipped with a heart valve. These act like valves and ensure that blood flows in only one direction. If heart valves are leaky, narrowed or widened or even torn, the blood flows back into the chambers or atria of the heart. This puts a heavy strain on this organ. In the worst case, it can lead to cardiac arrhythmia or heart failure.
Depending on the severity of the valve defect, artificial heart valves provide a remedy. In the coming decades, demand is likely to rise sharply in large parts of the world due to aging, lack of exercise and poor nutrition. Around 850,000 people will need artificial heart valves in 2050.
The silicone heart valve is tailor-made because the researchers first determine the individual shape and size of the leaky heart valve using computer tomography or magnetic resonance imaging. This makes it possible to print a heart valve that fits exactly on a patient.
First tests showed promising results for the function of the heart valve. The aim of the materials researchers is to increase the service life of such replacement valves to 10 to 15 years. This is how long today’s models last in the patient before they have to be replaced.
Author(s) Source
Report by Julia Engelke DeviceMed, 25.07.2019 (german)
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