Offering the Ross Procedure in Fountain Valley, CA

The Ross procedure is a relatively new method of replacing the heart’s aortic valve. This aortic valve is crucial to the patient’s survival, as it is what allows blood to travel from the heart to the rest of the body.

What Causes Aortic Valve Disease?

Aortic valve disease is an umbrella term that includes conditions directly contributing to a problem with the aortic valve. Some individuals may have a dysfunctional aortic valve from birth, while others may acquire aortic valve disease over time. The most common types of aortic valve disease are aortic valve stenosis and aortic valve regurgitation.

With aortic valve stenosis, the aortic valve begins to narrow over time until it is no longer able to supply the body with enough blood from the heart. The aortic valve is supposed to be approximately three centimeters in diameter. In cases of severe aortic valve stenosis, the valve is restricted to only one centimeter in diameter.

If the aortic valve is unable to close properly, blood may be able to leak backward into the left ventricle. This occurrence is known as aortic valve regurgitation.

How the Ross Procedure Can Treat Aortic Valve Disease

Once a case of aortic valve disease has progressed past a certain point, surgery becomes necessary. Adult patients are typically able to replace their aortic valve with a suitable substitute like a mechanical or animal valve. Unfortunately, most young patients have not matured enough to be able to take advantage of such alternative valves.

The Ross procedure eliminates this need for a foreign aortic valve. During this procedure, the damaged aortic valve is replaced with the patient’s own pulmonary valve. This borrowed valve works well since it is the patient’s own tissue that is already perfectly shaped to transfer blood between the body and heart.

Replacing the Pulmonary Valve

Of course, the pulmonary valve will require its own replacement. A donor valve is often selected to take over the function of the pulmonary valve.

This donor valve is much more likely to succeed in place of the pulmonary valve than the aortic valve because of the reduced pressure applied to it. As you can imagine, it takes much more effort to push blood out from one single organ to the rest of the body than it does to achieve the opposite. For this reason, the aortic valve is much more difficult to replace.

Another great benefit to replacing the aortic valve with the pulmonary valve is that the pulmonary valve is able to grow normally within the child as they mature into adulthood. This long-term solution rarely requires additional medication, and so it is extraordinarily effective at treating the child’s heart complications for up to 10 years, at which time an alternative treatment method may be more appropriate than before.

Consult with Our Cardiothoracic Specialists

At The Bethencourt Group, we pride ourselves on our experience with minimally invasive robotic cardiac surgery to treat aortic valve disorders.

Additional Patient Resources