The Valley Hospital has become one of the few centers in the U.S., and the only center in New Jersey, to offer an advanced surgical technique for aortic valve replacement called the Ross procedure.
Traditionally, nonfunctioning aortic valves are replaced with either a mechanical valve or a bioprosthetic tissue valve. Mechanical valves have proven to be susceptible to blood clots and require the use of lifelong blood thinners after implantation. Tissue valves tend to degenerate over time, eventually requiring reoperation. The Ross procedure offers patients an additional replacement option that offers longer valve life expectancy without the need for blood thinners.
The Ross procedure replaces the nonfunctioning aortic valve with the patient’s own pulmonary valve and a healthy donor pulmonic valve is used to replace the patient’s pulmonic valve.
Dr. Habib Jabagi, the cardiovascular surgeon who performed the first Ross procedure at Valley, explained how it works.
“The aortic and pulmonary valves are twins,” he said. “Both valves share gross anatomical and biological features, making the pulmonary valve an ideal aortic valve substitute.
“The Ross procedure mitigates the complications seen using traditional aortic valve substitutes by using the patient’s natural tissue as a durable replacement that may ensure lifelong viability. As the only living valve substitute for aortic valve replacement, the pulmonary valve can adapt to its new physiologic environment and help restore life expectancy.”
Additional patient benefits of the Ross procedure include improved blood flow throughout the body, the ability to resume an active lifestyle without restriction, inherent resistance to infection and an improved quality of life.
The Ross procedure is commonly used for the treatment of aortic valve disease, a condition in which the heart’s aortic valve is no longer functioning properly. The aortic valve plays a crucial role in the heart, allowing oxygen-rich blood from the heart to be pumped to different areas of the body. It also allows for proper filling of the coronary arteries of the heart and prevents blood from flowing back into the heart.
Since arriving at the Valley Heart and Vascular Institute in September of 2021, Jabagi has been instrumental in expanding the Comprehensive Valve Program’s aortic valve treatment armamentarium. Fellowship trained in the area of aortic and aortic valve procedures, Jabagi is actively introducing new surgical techniques to the program.