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Lenox Hill Hospital Offers Alternative to Traditional Heart Valve Replacement Surgery

September 27, 2004

Lenox Hill Hospital is one of the few hospitals in the world to offer aortic valve sparing root replacement, a relatively new procedure that provides a more durable option to standard heart valve replacement procedures.

This advanced procedure allows patients keep their own aortic valve while receiving a complete aneurysm resection, the surgical removal of defective tissue that causes a dangerous bulge in the aorta.

In standard heart valve replacement surgery, an animal or mechanical valve is used to replace a damaged aortic valve which can result in valve degeneration over time, especially in younger patients, repeated surgery and lifelong use of blood thinners to prevent clots from forming.

"Aortic valve sparing root replacement provides a more durable option than replacement with an animal valve and does not require use of blood thinners as needed when a metal valve is used," said George Tolis, MD, a cardiac surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital. "During the valve sparing procedure, the entire aortic root is removed-as in the traditional procedure-but the patient's aortic valve is repaired as needed, and reincorporated in the reconstruction of the aortic root."

This newer approach is especially advantageous for young patients who require aneurysm surgery, such as patients with Marfan?s syndrome, who have a genetic predisposition developing weak arteries, which can eventually rupture and cause death.

"By offering the valve sparing procedure to young patients, we can now operate on women who have aneurysms but hope to become pregnant in the years following surgery," explains Dr. Tolis. "This is something that could not happen if they undergo the traditional operation and take blood thinners. Young patients can now have their aneurysms repaired and not face almost certain future surgery or lifelong anti-coagulation."

The operation also offers advantages to older patients who may face other unrelated surgeries after their aortic aneurysm surgery. Later surgeries would be compromised in patients taking blood thinners.

For more information, you can call the Lenox Hill Hospital Cardiac Surgery Department at (212) 434-3000.

Members of the press seeking information about Lenox Hill Hospital should call the Public Relations Department at (212) 434-2400.