“The Ross procedure is a very rare type of open-heart surgery that few surgeons can do. We often receive referrals such as these,” said Joseph Woo, MD, professor and chair of cardiothoracic surgery at Stanford Medicine and the Norman E. Shumway Professor. It is one of the reasons Stanford Health Care is among the top 10 cardiology and heart surgery programs in the United States, Woo said.
Groundbreaking Developments in Heart Surgery
Stanford Health Care has a long history of innovation and excellence in heart surgery. In 1968, Norman Shumway, MD, performed the first successful adult heart transplant in the United States. That was followed by the world’s first successful heart-lung transplant in 1981.
Stanford Medicine heart surgeons are leaders in other types of intricate heart surgeries. “The Ross procedure also has a historical connection with Stanford Health Care,” Woo said. “It was actually developed here by Norman Shumway, but he never performed it on humans.”
Better Outcomes in Aortic Valve Replacement
In 1967, British surgeon, Donald Ross, MD, performed the first human surgery that would bear his name.
“During the Ross procedure, we take out the pulmonary valve and transfer it into the aortic valve position,” Woo said. The surgeon replaces the patient’s pulmonary valve with one taken from a cadaver.
The pulmonary valve is living tissue, and when it is transferred into the aortic valve, it grows into the heart and heals and this it can last a lifetime. The replaced pulmonic cadaver valve, when it eventually wears out, is simpler to access because of its location on the venous side of the body and can therefore be easily replaced.
Studies have found excellent long-term outcomes following the Ross procedure. One longitudinal study of 310 patients who underwent a Ross procedure over a 25-year period reported overall survival of 94.1% and 83.6% at 10 and 20 years, respectively.1 Another study of 212 patients found less than 1 in 5 (16.8%) required reoperation for either valve after 20 years.2
Woo and his team performed the Ross procedure on Foss on April 7, 2021. The 3½-hour surgery was a success.
In October, the Air National Guard approved him for regular duty. This would not have been possible had Foss opted for a mechanical valve. The increased risk of blood clots and bleeding and required use of blood-thinning medication would have resulted in a military discharge.
At some point in Foss’ future, he will have to have another intervention. Foss is counting on Stanford Health Care to find new advances to help him when the time comes.
Heart Surgery at Stanford Health Care
Through research and innovation, Stanford Medicine physicians are finding new ways to treat complex heart conditions. They use the latest technologies and techniques to offer patients better, safer options.