Risks During Surgery

The mortality rate reported in other series runs about 3.5%. For similar age patients having a simpler aortic valve operation, the mortality rate is 1 – 1.5%.

Dr. Stelzer’s personal series of Ross Procedures includes 421 patients as of 6/20/07. Average age of his patients has been 43.2 years. This is older than other groups, because he has done only “adult” cardiac surgery since 1989. The range for his patients has been from 13 – 70.

Dr. Stelzer’s overall hospital mortality has been 1.5%. (Six patients did not survive the initial hospital stay. No patient has died in the operating room.) Of note, three of these were among the first 30 patients in the series and the other three in the next 180. He has done over 200 consecutive Ross Procedures without losing anyone since 1998. With experience has come safety.

Three other patients died early (within six weeks) after leaving the hospital. These included a pulmonary embolus (blood clot in the lungs), ventricular tachycardia (sudden, lethal heart rhythm disturbance), and bleeding complication in a patient who had been put on Coumadin for atrial fibrillation.

Most problems have been encountered in patients with complicating risk factors, particularly coronary artery disease and active endocarditis. All deaths but one and many later complications have been in this small subset. Of over 300 patients with neither active infection nor coronary artery disease, only one patient has failed to leave the hospital alive. The mortality of the 300 is less than 0.5% which compares favorably to the risk of simpler operations.