The Atlantic Aortic Center at Morristown Medical Center, part of Atlantic Health System, is one of the few locations in the country offering a technically complex procedure for the treatment of aortic valve diseases, such as aortic stenosis.
“Aortic stenosis can at times be related to a congenital heart defect of the aortic valve. The aortic valve usually has three leaflets, or cusps, however, some patients are born with two cusps (bicuspid aortic valve) or even one (unicuspid aortic valve).” says cardiac surgeon, and Surgical Director of the Aortic Center, Benjamin van Boxtel, MD. “Aortic stenosis often occurs in older patients—people in their 70s, 80s, and 90s. But sometimes, it can manifest much earlier, especially when patients have a bicuspid or unicuspid valve.”
When considering treatment options, Dr. van Boxtel can utilize the highly technical Ross Procedure, which replaces the diseased aortic valve with a patient’s own pulmonic valve. The pulmonic valve is then replaced with a valve from an organ donor.
“The pulmonic valve is a low-pressure system, which means it typically doesn’t suffer from a lot of wear and tear. It also most closely mimics the native aortic valve in terms of flow and function,” says Dr. van Boxtel. “That makes it an excellent replacement for the aortic valve in certain patients and is superior to any artificial valves that would be used otherwise. The Ross Procedure should be considered in any patient under 60 years old, especially if they have an active lifestyle.”
Dr. van Boxtel is among a small group of surgeons in the U.S. who performs the Ross Procedure. The procedure provides excellent long-term survival, freedom from valve-related complications, does not require anticoagulation, and offers improved quality of life.
The Atlantic Aortic Center’s multidisciplinary approach combines the expertise of world-class cardiac and vascular surgical teams with the knowledge of cardiologists and professionals in fields such as imaging, genetics, anesthesiology, and critical care.
“The Atlantic Aortic Center provides another example of the advanced, subspecialized evidence-based care that we can offer patients as one of the nation’s leading cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery programs,” said Linda D. Gillam, MD, MPH, MACC, Chair of the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine for Atlantic Health System. “Our patients can rest assured that Dr. van Boxtel’s team will provide the best care available.”
The Atlantic Aortic Center therapeutic strategies include active surveillance (evaluating a patient’s aortic disease and working with their primary doctor to ensure proper monitoring and follow-up), medical management for nonsurgical cases, and endovascular (less invasive) and/or conventional open-heart surgical procedures to treat the underlying problem.
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The Ross Procedure, which replaces the diseased aortic valve on the left side of the heart with a patient’s own pulmonic valve, is a complex but effective solution to the problem of aortic valve disease.