When Dorothy Rosenberry recently developed a serious heart problem, she immediately knew she wanted to come to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). Several years ago Rosenberry, of Frederick, Maryland, had come to UMMC to have a couple of angioplasties (a procedure used to open narrowed or blocked blood vessels of the heart).
"I liked UMMC very much," Rosenberry said about her experience. Then, more recently, she developed aortic stenosis -- a heart valve disorder that narrows or obstructs the aortic valve opening. This prevents the valve from opening properly and obstructs the flow of blood from the left ventricle to the aorta.
When she went to visit her granddaughter in Roanoke, Va., she had an attack. "I was very sick. I had chest pain, I couldn't breathe. I passed out," she recalled.
Rosenberry was sent to a local hospital, where the aortic stenosis was diagnosed. They wanted her to have an operation there, but she decided she wanted to be closer to home. "Once I came home I decided I wanted to go to UMMC."
After returning home, she went to see her cardiologist, who referred her to James Gammie, M.D., a cardiac surgeon at the University of Maryland Medical Center and an associate professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Rosenberry went to see Dr. Gammie in December of 2003.
Since Rosenberry was a high-risk patient, Dr. Gammie wanted to use a new approach for her surgery instead of the conventional aortic valve replacement. Cardiac surgeons at the Maryland Heart Center have developed a minimally invasive approach for higher-risk patients with symptomatic aortic stenosis.
This approach, known as aortic valve bypass, is performed through a keyhole incision using videoscopic assistance, thus avoiding a breastbone-splitting incision.
"Early outcomes in very high-risk patients have been gratifying, and we are enthusiastic that this approach is ideally suited for patients who otherwise might not be considered candidates for conventional aortic valve replacement," said Dr. Gammie.
According to Dr. Gammie, the ideal patient for this type of approach has been turned down for conventional aortic valve replacement. "As people get older, there is a higher mortality rate (with this type of surgery), so we now have a less invasive approach," said Dr. Gammie. In fact, Rosenberry was the third patient at the Maryland Heart Center to receive this type of surgery. Dr. Gammie says this new approach minimizes the amount of time patients spend on heart-lung machine.
Dr. Gammie operated on Rosenberry on December 22, 2003.
Afterwards, she said, "It went very well. Everybody was so caring and nice. The nurses were wonderful. I received excellent care." She also praised her doctor and nurses. "Dr. Gammie is very nice; he has a good bedside manner. He's an excellent surgeon."
And with the minimally invasive approach, Rosenberry said, "The scar is not that visible, not nearly as bad as when they cut through my breastbone during previous surgeries."
After her surgery, Rosenberry stayed in the hospital for two weeks and then went home. She's now glad to be back to her daily routine. "I feel better now," she said. "I'm getting around the house and doing my own chores."
Rosenberry enjoys spending her time shopping, walking, reading, having lunch with friends and spending time with her family. "I'm happy to be doing so well after what I went through," she said.
By Michelle W. Murray