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Alpha gal syndrome, a relative not absolute contraindication to the use of bovine pericardium to close an intracardiac septal defect: a case report.

BACKGROUND: Alpha-gal syndrome is an allergic condition in which individuals develop an immune-mediated hypersensitivity response when consuming red meat and its derived products. Its diagnosis is important in individuals undergoing cardiac surgery, as patients frequently require large doses of unfractionated heparin or the insertion of surgical implants, both of which are porcine or bovine in origin. There are currently no guidelines for heparin administration in alpha-gal patients, with even less knowledge regarding the long-term clinical implications of these patients after receiving bioprosthetic valve replacements or other prostheses.

CASE PRESENTATION: We present the case of a 31-year-old male who underwent cardiac surgery in the setting of alpha-gal syndrome for a large atrial septal defect (ASD) and mitral valve prolapse (MVP). The patient continues to do well one year after undergoing a mitral valve repair, tricuspid valve repair and an ASD closure using bovine pericardium. He sustained no adverse reaction to the use of heparin products or the presence of a bovine pericardial patch. This rare case was managed by a multidisciplinary team consisting of cardiothoracic surgery, cardiac anesthesiology, and allergy/immunology that led to an optimal outcome despite the patient's pertinent allergic history.

CONCLUSIONS: This case highlights that the use of bovine pericardium and porcine heparin to close septal defects in patients with milder forms of alpha-gal allergy can be considered if other options are not available. Further studies are warranted to investigate the long-term outcomes of such potential alpha-gal containing prostheses and heparin exposure and establish the optimal decision making algorithm and prophylactic regimen.

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