Surgeon Interview: Understanding Pediatric and Adult Congenital Heart Valve Surgery with Dr. Hyde Russell

By Adam Pick on February 1, 2013

One educational area that I plan to discuss more in the future is pediatric and adult congenital heart valve surgery. While we have discussed this topic in the past, the amount of educational content at this website for children, parents, grandparents and friends is not overwhelming.

For that reason, I recently met with Dr. Hyde Russell, MD, a pediatric and adult congenital heart surgeon, during a recent trip to Chicago. The highlights of our discussion are provided in the video below. For the hearing impaired members of our community, I have provided a written transcript below.



Many thanks to Dr. Russell for taking the time to speak with us about pediatric valve surgery and adult congenital heart valve surgery!

Keep on tickin!

P.S. Here is the written transcript of the video interview:

Dr. Hyde Russell: My name is Hyde Russell. I am an attending cardiac surgeon at both Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Adam Pick: Hi everybody! It’s Adam with We’re here with Dr. Hyde Russell of Northwestern Memorial Hospital. What type of cardiac surgery do you specialize in?

Dr. Hyde Russell:  I do both pediatric and adult cardiac surgery. I do congenital heart surgery at the Children’s Hospital here in Chicago and I come over to the adult hospital with the main interest in adult congenital heart surgeries.

Adam Pick: What attracted you to pediatric cardiac surgery?

Dr. Hyde Russell:  Cardiac surgery is always been a love of mine just for the technical aspects of it and my own personal fascination with heart surgery. My father was a cardiologist and I grew up in the fold – if you will. I always had an interest in it — which became a love for it — during medical school and during surgical training. The whole package of the pediatric heart really made for a good fit for me. I like working with the kids. I like working with their families.

Adam Pick: Is valve disease a common problem among children?

Dr. Hyde Russell: Congenital heart disease occupies about 1% of all patients born. That’s a lot of patients. Almost half of them have some valve related problem.

Adam Pick: A big question we get from the parents is, “How is a valve procedure different for a child versus an adult?”

Dr. Hyde Russell: A valve procedure is different in a child versus an adult for two reasons: One, pediatric patients with valve disease, if they have associated congenital defects, can impact how a valve repair is done. So, the anatomy of children with congenital heart defects can be very different from adults with acquired valve disease. Second, there are growth issues with children so the typical valve procedures that are common in the adult world — namely valve replacements — are problematic in children.

Adam Pick: Are the success rates similar to adults as they are for children?

Dr. Hyde Russell: The success rates between children with valve disease and adult with valve disease are similar. The difference with this particular question is that children have a much longer follow-up than the average adult who’s undergoing a valve operation at 50 years of age. That patient may have 20, 30 years of follow up whereas a 5-year old who is undergoing a valve operation is gonna have 50, 60, 70 years of follow-up.

Adam Pick: If surgery is a success, is it likely that children may need another surgery down the road?

Dr. Hyde Russell: I never tell a patient or a family of a child that this is the last operation they may need. That would be the wrong information to give. What they need to know is that we’re gonna do everything we can to make this a durable, long lasting procedure.

Adam Pick:  Can you tell us about your specific experience with the Ross Procedure?

Dr. Hyde Russell:  Our experience with the Ross operation in Chicago includes about 80 patients over the last 15 years both children and adults. When it comes to aortic valve replacement options, there are in general two options: the mechanical valve or tissue valve. We offer the option of a Ross operation which is what I call the third option and often times, what I think is the best option especially for young patients. The advantage of the Ross procedure surgery is that it keeps native tissue. It uses the body’s own pulmonary valve as a new aortic valve. The reason we like that is that it has a good track record against endocarditis or infection of the new valve. It has a good track record for longevity of the valve — how the valve holds up overtime.

Adam Pick: Dr. Russell, what is your number one piece of advice for parents with children diagnosed with valve disease?

Dr. Hyde Russell: My advice for parents with children diagnosed with valve disease is to find a center that they are comfortable with. The care of these children — and of this family — is more than just one person. It’s a whole team of people. That team approach is what we strive for here — both in the Children’s Hospital and at Northwestern. It’s the team approach. As a surgeon, doing a successful operation is much more than just me. It includes the scrub nurse is, who my assistant is, who the anesthesiologist is, and again it’s more than just one doctor. It’s the whole team that’s taking care of the patient.


Written by Adam Pick
- Patient & Website Founder

Adam Pick, Heart Valve Patient Advocate

Adam Pick is a heart valve patient and author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery. In 2006, Adam founded to educate and empower patients. This award-winning website has helped over 10 million people fight heart valve disease. Adam has been featured by the American Heart Association and Medical News Today.

Adam Pick is a heart valve patient and author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery. In 2006, Adam founded to educate and empower patients. This award-winning website has helped over 10 million people fight heart valve disease. Adam has been featured by the American Heart Association and Medical News Today.

Sylvia Woolworth says on February 2nd, 2013 at 3:35 pm

Hi Adam,
Thanks for keeping us posted on heart care for children, Dr. Russell was very informative.

MJ Samer says on February 3rd, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Dr. Hyde Russell was my surgeon when I had my triscupid valve replaced in 2009 at Northwestern Memorial Hospital (NMH) in Chicago. I am an adult congenital heart patient. That was my 3rd heart surgery; the first was at age 4 in 1951 at Children’s Memorial Hospital, Chicago.

Dr Russell is an excellent surgeon and a very good man. His post surgery visits to my hospital room were unlike any I have had as a hospital patient before or since. He came every day, sometimes twice a day, always with a unhurried, pleasant manner. The nurses also loved him because he responded so quickly to calls.

Unfortunately, my heart valve failed for unknown reasons and had to be replaced again January, 2012 with a transcatheter valve replacement procedure also at NMH — and I was the first patient in this part of the country to have a triscupid replaced in this manner. That was done by Dr.David Wax. In April 2012 I had a pacemaker put in for a slow and irregular heart rate, also at NMH.

Dr. Russell is right; you can never say this is my last heart surgery, but knowing there is good care and great medical advancements out there is certainly a comfort.

Last Wed. I had gall bladder surgery at NMH. That was something that had been put on hold until my heart problems were corrected. I hope I am done with surgeries for awhile, but realize we must play with the hand we’re dealt.
MJ Samer

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