Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Biomedical Engineering


Prof. Wankei Wan


Heart valve disease is prevalent among Canadian population and worldwide; and for failing valves, the ultimate solution is valve replacement surgery. Bovine pericardial tissue is commonly used as a biomaterial to fabricate bioprosthetic heart valves (BHVs), however calcification of the soft tissue is an ongoing concern for its long-term performance. Calcification ultimately results in device failure due to regurgitation, stenosis, or both, which is caused by stiffening, tearing and rupturing of the tissue valve leaflets. This project investigates parameters related to bovine pericardial heart valve calcification. Three in vitro methods of calcium quantification in soft tissue were assessed using bovine pericardium (BP) – all three methods proved to be interchangeable with reliable results. We investigated the use of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) as mediums to effectively remove cell membrane phospholipid debris in efforts to inhibit or decrease calcification - calcium reduction of approximately 50% was achieved with the use of DMSO. Lastly, we microscopically examined fresh and glutaraldehyde (GA) treated BP to examine the inherent forms of calcium present – calcium sites associated with sulfur were discovered, which have not been reported in literature. These insights could lead to significant advances in BHVs.