The Ross procedure is done to ease
the symptoms of aortic stenosis. These are chest pain, extreme tiredness (fatigue),
problems feeding or growing, or rapid or distressed breathing. Newborns with aortic
valve problems are often very ill. The procedure decreases how hard the heart has to
work. It also improves blood flow out to the body. Some children need treatment for
aortic stenosis if they have too much pressure in the left ventricle, even if they don’t
yet have symptoms. Aortic stenosis can damage the heart and cause symptoms later on.
The Ross procedure is not the only
treatment for aortic stenosis. Balloon valvotomy is often a first treatment. It is a
less invasive procedure that helps open up the valve. But it may not work permanently.
It also may lead to a leaky valve. Your child’s healthcare provider may be more likely
to advise the Ross procedure if your child has already had balloon valvotomy.
In some cases, it may be possible
to fix the aortic valve or replace it with something other than the child’s own
pulmonary valve. Each of these procedures has its own risks and benefits. One advantage
of the Ross procedure is that the valve can grow with the child. The child will not
outgrow it and need a future replacement. Your child’s healthcare provider may be more
likely to advise a Ross procedure if your child has a certain kind of valve anatomy.
The Ross procedure is a technically demanding surgery. Not all surgical centers offer it. Ask your child’s healthcare provider about the pros and cons of the Ross procedure and other possible treatments.
In most cases, the cause of the
aortic valve problem is not known. Sometimes aortic stenosis is present with other types
of heart defects as well.