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Jay Lake
Date: 2010-11-06 16:45
Subject: [help] Medical science question
Security: Public
Tags:healthcare, help
What kind of cows do bovine heart valve replacements come from? Surely not random animals off the feedlot. Are there FDA-monitored herds that provide the donor pericardial tissue for this process? This is surprisingly difficult to run down via the usual sources.

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User: copperwise
Date: 2010-11-07 00:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
My wife the nurse says yes, they have herds of animals that are raised specifically for these applications, and regulated. I would check with OSU and their veterinary school, as I'm pretty sure they get sterile medically raised animals for some of their work as well, and might know exactly where they come from.
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User: horace_hamster
Date: 2010-11-07 05:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
While there are gnotobiotic animals raised I don't think that technique extend to cows. And since the bovine heart tissues are, I think, fixed in gluteraldehyde, I can't imagine contamination would be a problem. However I expect the source animals would be tested to ensure they are prion-free.

Jay, this is a company that manufactures the valves: http://www.edwards.com/procedures/replacement/aorticmitralproducts.htm Maybe email them and ask?
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User: eposia
Date: 2010-11-07 03:56 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Also, Texas A&M has a strong agricultural program as well as a good veterinary school, you might be able to find more information there.
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User: e_bourne
Date: 2010-11-07 05:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Interesting question. The valve tissue is made genetically neutral (as well as completely sterile) by the valve manufacturer. I doubt that Boston Scientific, for example (Mark's bovine valve provider), raises cows for the purpose. I also doubt that cows are raised just for heart valves. Seems like a waste of a lot of cow.

I suspect (and it's only a suspicion) that cow valve specifications are known, and hearts purchased as part of the normal slaughter process. Any healthy heart would likely serve.

But that's just a commonsense guess on my part based on what I know of how the tissue is treated before being turned into a bovine valve. Really, there isn't much "cow" left in it. And if you handle one in the doctor's office, you can't hardly tell it ever came from an animal at all.

For example, I was surprised to learn that it's one size fits all in valve-land. Mark's bovine valve is larger than the old valve he had. His heart stretched to accommodate, and it's just not a problem. We are flexible. Surprised the heck out of me. I thought it'd be at least small, medium, large. But nope.

But if you learn differently (like, bovine valves come from guernseys with blue eyes) I think that'd be fascinating to know.
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User: icedrake
Date: 2010-11-07 07:37 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I must also wonder about size difference -- given that cows are significantly larger than humans, I'd expect that a properly-sized heart valve could even be harvested from a calf.
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User: markbourne
Date: 2010-11-07 16:32 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Well, from my personal first-hand experience, I can tell you authoritatively that moo moo moo-moo moooooo.

Mmmmmmm, cud.
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