OBJECTIVES: Swine models are widely used to develop new techniques and materials for the treatment of heart valve disease like aortic valve and mitral valve transcatheter interventions and to train physicians in these techniques. Transoesophageal echocardiography (TOE) is crucial in these models. We defined standard planes of 2D and 3D TOE in healthy pigs undergoing transcatheter heart valve interventions.
METHODS: Twenty healthy pigs (weight 56-106 kg) underwent different mitral and aortic valve interventions (transcatheter aortic valve implantations, implantations of a mitral band, bicuspidization of the aortic valve, trans-septal punctures). For image guidance of the procedures, an adult TOE probe was introduced under direct vision in the oesophagus. Before the procedure itself was performed, a standardized protocol was used to determine normal values for anatomical and functional echocardiographic parameters.
RESULTS: Positioning of the probe was possible in all animals and ideal when achieving a distance from the front teeth (incisors) of 40-60 cm. Anteflexion and lateroflexion of the probe was necessary to achieve optimal imaging quality. 2D visualization of all relevant cardiac structures was possible. The aortic annulus diameter was 24.1 ± 2.5 mm, the sinus of valsalva diameter was 30.6 ± 4 mm and the sinotubular junction diameter was 25.2 ± 4 mm. The ascending aorta had a diameter of 24 ± 4 mm and the descending aorta a diameter of 16 ± 5 mm. The mitral valve anterior-posterior diameter was 31.8 ± 4 mm and the commissure to commissure diameter was 40.5 ± 5 mm resulting in a mitral valve area of 10.7 ± 1.5 cm(2). 3D visualization was possible for the aortic and the mitral valve. None of the animals showed any pathology except one that had a dilated left ventricle and moderate mitral valve insufficiency. Left and right ventricular dimensions and the anatomy of the aortic-, mitral-, tricuspid and pulmonary valve as well as of the aorta were comparable with those of the human anatomy.
CONCLUSIONS: 2D and 3D TOE can be routinely applied as image guidance in pigs used as a model for the development and training of new techniques to treat heart valve disease.