Aortic valve replacement is a lifesaving measure in patients with severe aortic valve disease. In the United States, the most commonly used prostheses are the mechanical and bioprosthetic valves. With mechanical valves, long-term anticoagulation is necessary because of high thrombogenic potential. Bioprosthetic valves have a relatively high incidence of structural failure, especially in younger patients. Aortic valve homografts, derived from human heart donors or autopsy material, provide an alternative to mechanical or animal valves. The advantages of the homograft in comparison with the mechanical prostheses are the low incidence of thromboembolism without anticoagulation and lower valvular gradients in smaller sizes. Homografts are relatively resistant to endocarditis and are the valve of choice during active endocarditis. Their major mode of failure has been aortic regurgitation; however, recent advances in preservation and operative techniques have decreased this problem. Whether implantation of an aortic valve homograft should be the procedure of choice in subsets of patients remains controversial. Herein we review the history, techniques, results, complications, and current indications for aortic valve homografts.
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