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Since the 1970s many tissue banks have been testing allograft heart valves (HVs) for Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB). Donor selection for low risk of tuberculosis (TB) was introduced in the 1980s and appears to have reduced the risk of TB transmission. Regulatory guidance does not specify testing for TB, but does exclude donors with a recent history of TB. This survey of HV international bank practices revealed variations in donor selection, testing and processing of valves. Participant banks (from Europe and the USA) reported that over a period of 15 years, HV tissues from 38,413 donors were banked and 32,289 donors were tested for TB, none being positive. HV-associated tissue from 27,840 donors was stained and underwent microscopy; none of these were positive for acid-fast bacilli (AFB). Non-tuberculosis mycobacteria (NTBM) were detected by culture on 24 HVs. It is recommended that HV banks employ donor selection to exclude donors at risk of TB, to culture material for mycobacteria, and to investigate potential sources when clusters of NTBM are found to facilitate corrective and preventative actions.

Original publication




Journal article


J Hosp Infect

Publication Date





255 - 261


Cross Infection, Data Collection, Endocarditis, Bacterial, Europe, Heart Valves, Humans, Infection Control, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Tissue Donors, Tissue and Organ Procurement, Transplantation, Homologous, Tuberculosis, United States