The Susceptibility of the Aortic Root: Porcine Aortic Rupture Testing Under Cardiopulmonary Bypass

PerfusJ Cardiothorac Surg. 2021 Oct 3;16(1)


In our earlier study on the functional limits of the aneurysmal aortic root we determined the pig root is susceptible to failure at high aortic pressures levels. We established a pig rupture model using cardiopulmonary bypass to determine the most susceptible region of the aortic root under the highest pressures achievable using continuous flow, and what changes occur in these regions on a macroscopic and histological level. This information may help guide clinical management of aortic root and ascending aorta pathology.


Five pigs underwent 4D flow MRI imaging pre surgery to determine vasopressor induced wall sheer stress and flow parameters. All pigs were then placed on cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) via median sternotomy, and maximal aortic root and ascending aorta flows were initiated until rupture or failure, to determine the most susceptible region of the aorta. The heart was explanted and analysed histologically to determine if histological changes mirror the macroscopic observations.


The magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) aortic flow and wall sheer stress (WSS) increased significantly in all regions of the aorta, and the median maximal pressures obtained during cardiopulmonary bypass was 497 mmHg and median maximal flows was 3.96 L/m. The area of failure in all experiments was the non-coronary cusp of the aortic valve. Collagen and elastin composition (%) was greatest in the proximal regions of the aorta. Collagen I and III showed greatest content in the inner aortic root and ascending aorta regions.


This unique porcine model shows that the aortic root is most susceptible to failure at high continuous aortic pressures, supported histologically by different changes in collagen content and subtypes in the aortic root. With further analysis, this information could guide management of the aortic root in disease.