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Open Access Debate

Biodegradable materials for surgical management of infective endocarditis: new solution or a dead end street?

Patrick O Myers*, Mustafa Cikirikcioglu and Afksendiyos Kalangos

Author Affiliations

Cardiovascular Surgery, Geneva University Hospitals & Faculty of Medicine, 4 rue Gabrielle-Perret-Gentil, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland

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BMC Surgery 2014, 14:48  doi:10.1186/1471-2482-14-48

Published: 3 August 2014



One third of patients with infective endocarditis will require operative intervention. Given the superiority of valve repair over valve replacement in many indications other than endocarditis, there has been increasing interest and an increasing number of reports of excellent results of valve repair in acute infective endocarditis. The theoretically ideal material for valve repair in this setting is non-permanent, “vanishing” material, not at risk of seeding or colonization. The goal of this contribution is to review currently available data on biodegradable materials for valve repair in infective endocarditis.


Rigorous electronic and manual literature searches were conducted to identify reports of biodegradable materials for valve repair in infective endocarditis. Articles were identified in electronic database searches of Medline, Embase and the Cochrane Library, using a predetermined search strategy. 49 manuscripts were included in the review. Prosthetic materials needed for valve repair can be summarized into annuloplasty rings to remodel the mitral or tricuspid annulus, and patch materials to replace resected valvar tissue. The commercially available biodegradable annuloplasty ring has shown interesting clinical results in a single-center experience; however further data is required for validation and longer follow-up. Unmodified extra-cellular matrix patches, such as small intestinal submucosa, have had promising initial experimental and clinical results in non-infected valve repair, although in valve repair for endocarditis has been reported in only one patient, and concerns have been raised regarding their mechanical stability in an infected field.


These evolving biodegradable devices offer the potential for valve repair with degradable materials replaced with autologous tissue, which could further improve the results of valve repair for infective endocarditis. This is an evolving field with promising experimental or initial clinical results, however long-term outcomes are lacking and further data is necessary to validate this theoretically interesting approach to infective endocarditis.

Endocarditis; Valve repair; Biodegradable materials