The Ross procedure: time for a hard look at current practices and a reexamination of the guidelines
The ideal aortic valve substitute for young adults requiring aortic valve replacement (AVR) remains elusive. Young and middle-aged patients have a longer anticipated life expectancy and a higher level of physical activity than their elderly counterparts. In recent years, there has been a growing focus on long-term outcomes following AVR in this specific patient population. These studies highlight the direct impact of the choice of prosthesis on long-term survival, quality of life and rates of valve-related complications in younger adults. Although conventional AVR using a biological or mechanical prosthesis significantly improve the natural history of the disease, there are many inherent limitations, which need to be addressed. Despite declining use of the Ross procedure in recent years, several long-term registry, cohort and comparative studies in the last decade, indicate a clear role for this operation in young and middle-aged adults requiring AVR. These advantages are manifest in terms of long-term survival, freedom from valve-related complications and quality of life. In this Perspective article, we discuss findings from a recently published propensity-matched analysis of long-term outcomes following mechanical AVR versus the Ross procedure, showing better cardiac- and valve-related survival in the Ross cohort, lower rates of stroke and major bleeding and equal rates of reoperation at 20 years. These data are placed in the broader context of currently available evidence regarding the Ross procedure and a broader discussion pertaining to its role in today’s practice and the need to reexamine current valvular guidelines so they are more reflective of the actual evidence.