Evaluation of Bioprosthetic Valve-Associated Thrombus in Ventricular Assist Device Patients

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Thromboembolic events may be related to thrombotic deposition on prosthetic valves. In a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) that contains two porcine pericardial bioprosthetic valves in addition to significant associated biomaterial placement, this may be particularly true. Thrombotic deposits on valves removed from LVADs at autopsy or heart transplantation were scored to determine (1) the nature and location of valvular deposition, (2) whether deposition was related to thromboembolic events, (3) correlations between deposition and patient hemodynamic and coagulation parameters, and (4) implant time dependency.

Methods and Results.

Novacor LVADs were implanted in 23 patients as a bridge to transplantation for 1 to 303 days. Photographs of the concave (downstream) and convex (upstream) side of the inflow and outflow valve were made at explant and later scored for (1) total thrombus area (10=equivalent of cusp area), (2) percent of cusp area occupied by solid thrombus, (3) thrombus color (10=dark red, 0=white), and (4) average percent of valve strut height involved with thrombus (from a side view). The inflow valve was shown to have heavier and redder deposition than the outflow valve. This was also true for the concave versus the convex side. Heaviest deposition was seen on the inflow valve concave side, which rests within the LVAD pumping sac and may be subject to poor convection. Patients with neurological thromboembolic events (8/23) during implantation had heavier deposition on the inflow valve concave side (5.7±2.7 versus 4.6±2.2,P<.05). Pump volumetric output was also found to negatively correlate with thrombus area on this valve and side (r= -.61,P=.002). Platelet release (platelet factor 4) was correlated with thrombus involvement on the upstream (convex) side of the inflow valve (r=.82,P=.002). No significant dependence of deposition on the implant time was found.


Valve thrombus deposition was related to thromboembolic events. Pump volumetric output and platelet release were found to be related to deposition. These results may have implications for the role of hemodynamics and platelet activation in thromboembolism associated with prosthetic valve placement in general. (Circulation.1993;88[part 1]:2023–2029.)

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