Synthetic heart valves to help improve surgical skills

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 58, No. 8, October 2016, Page 473 News

UBC researchers have developed synthetic heart valves, arteries, and veins made of polyvinyl alcohol hydrogel that resemble human tissue. The polyvinyl tissue makes it possible for surgeons and medical residents to practise bypass surgery techniques using the synthetic material rather than arteries and veins from dead pigs or human cadavers, which can break down quickly if they are not treated with preservatives and which feel different than living human tissue. The synthetic material can be created safely and cheaply, does not decompose, cannot be contaminated, and feels like living human tissue.

The synthetic tissue was invented by Professor Hadi Mohammadi and Dr Guy Fradet, who are both affiliated with UBC’s Faculty of Medicine.

The invention is currently being used for teaching purposes by a number of surgeons and medical residents at Kelowna General Hospital to practise bypass surgery on actual hearts harvested from pigs. The next step will be to create a synthetic heart with the material.

The research, “Simulation of an-astomosis in coronary artery bypass surgery,” was published in Cardiovascular Engineering and Technology and is available online at

Learn more about the synthetic tissue in a video available on

. Synthetic heart valves to help improve surgical skills. BCMJ, Vol. 58, No. 8, October, 2016, Page(s) 473 - News.

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