For Dave And Jeff… Why I Chose The Ross Procedure For My Aortic Valve Replacement?
Once diagnosed with severe aortic heart valve disease (stenosis) and an enlarged heart, I went into action mode.
Yes. I was confused. Yes. I was scared. Yes. I may have even been a little bit depressed (and a tad angry).
Still, my heart needed to be fixed quickly. Dr. Chaikin, my second opinion cardiologist, had given me 30 days to relieve the stress and strain on my dilated (enlarged) heart. Otherwise, Dr. Chaikin told me there could be more damage to my cardiac muscle.
During the surgeon selection process, I set up interviews with Dr. Trento (Cedar Sinai) and Dr. Starnes (USC Medical Center). I would use this time to evaluate my potential surgeons and my options for valve replacement devices (mechanical, tissue, homograft valves) and surgical procedures (open heart, minimally invasive, robotic, ross procedures).
Needless to say, I was overwhelmed with information. I was also overwhelmed with the notion that I would be the one choosing both my valve replacement and the surgical procedure.
I mean… Come on… Who am I to know which valve would be best for me? That’s a big decision. And, I have enough trouble choosing between eggs, oatmeal or waffles for breakfast each morning.
After a lot of thought, evaluation and discussion with my family, I opted for the Ross Procedure. You can read about this unique double valve replacement and its success statistics by clicking those links.
Recently, I have received several questions about this special form of aortic valve replacement developed by Donald Ross. A few days ago, Dave and Jeff emailed almost identical notes which read, “Adam – Why did you risk double valve disease and go for the Ross Procedure?”
Here was my response to Dave and Jeff…
As for why I selected the Ross Procedure, my surgeon interviews and follow-up discussions helped me get over the risk of potential, double valve disease issue.
You have to remember that extra trouble with the pulmonary valve is more trivial than the aortic valve due to lighter pressures across the pulmonary valve. That said, I felt the homograft (a human donor valve) could definitely do the job long term.
As for the aortic valve position, I wanted to have my own valve in my own body if possible. It was a personal choice. Plus, statistics for the Ross Procedure are getting better.
Also, I preferred NOT to go on Coumadin at this stage of my life. I know that many patients have no issues with Coumadin (including Mount Everest climber Veronika Meyer), however, I’m a very active person and did not want to be tied to the drug.
Above all things, my key consideration for the Ross was my surgeon, Vaughn Starnes. Doctor Starnes is one of the gurus in heart valve replacement surgery. Thankfully, he took the time to share with me all the pros and cons about the Ross Procedure before I made my decision.
I hope that helps explain why I selected the Ross Procedure for my aortic valve replacement.
Keep on tickin!
Adam Pick is a patient, author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery and the founder of HeartValveSurgery.com.