AIMS: Preclinical studies and translational animal models are fundamental for the development of new clinical interventions. Compared to human anatomy, pigs present a more anterior heart position in the chest which may jeopardise the imaging and testing of devices designed to be delivered to the human mitral valve. To imitate human anatomy, we developed a novel model to "humanise" a pig heart.
METHODS AND RESULTS: The creation of a neo inferior vena cava with a Dacron tube grafted to the right atrium was tested for transseptal delivery of an experimental mitral annuloplasty device in 35 animals. In 15 animals with native anatomy a conventional right transfemoral access was used. Imaging guidance was achieved with intracardiac or epicardial echocardiography. In all transfemoral approaches (n=15), the delivery of the device was unsuccessful and the handling was dissimilar to a human implant. In all neo-cava approaches (n=35), the handling and manoeuvring were as expected in humans, the targets were reached as intended and all procedures but one were successful.
CONCLUSIONS: A translational "humanised" animal model with the creation of a neo cava eliminates the differences between pig and human anatomy and is suitable for testing human grade devices.