Surgical Director José da Silva, MD

José da Silva, MD, founding director of the Center for Valve TherapyAs a trainee in cardiovascular surgery at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in the late 1970s, José Pedro da Silva, MD, developed a special interest in patients with a rare heart defect known as Ebstein’s anomaly that was challenging to repair.

In Ebstein’s anomaly, one of the heart’s four valves –– the tricuspid valve –– doesn’t work properly. The defect prevents blood from flowing smoothly from the heart’s upper right chamber, the right atrium, to the lower right chamber, the right ventricle.

Dr. da Silva had graduated from medical school and completed residencies in general and cardiovascular surgery in his native Brazil. After completing his training at the Cleveland Clinic, he returned to his homeland, where he continued to work on a better way to repair the tricuspid valve in patients with Ebstein’s anomaly. He was concerned about the limitations of multiple techniques that were available at the time, particularly because of the frequent need for valve replacement.

In 1989 he started to design a new surgical technique, cone reconstruction of the tricuspid valve, to repair Ebstein’s anomaly. After four years of work to refine and standardize the technique, in 1993 Dr. da Silva and his team started using the cone reconstruction, or cone procedure, routinely to treat patients with the anomaly.

Since then, Dr. da Silva has performed more than 200 cone procedures. He has continued to refine the procedure even as he traveled around the world speaking about it and training other cardiovascular surgeons to perform it.

A particular goal Dr. da Silva had in developing the cone procedure, he says, was to enable girls born with Ebstein’s anomaly to bear children when they grew up. Pregnancy was long considered too risky for women with abnormalities of the tricuspid valve. So it gives him great satisfaction that the first patient on whom he performed the cone procedure in 1993 when she was 12 years old is now a healthy 34-year-old mother of two children.

Dr. da Silva joined Children’s as the founding surgical director of the Center for Valve Therapy in March 2016. “I was very impressed by the team approach at Children’s,” he says. “I felt that this was the right place to further develop and expand the use of the cone procedure.”

Says Victor Morell, MD, chief of cardiac surgery and co-director of Children’s Heart Institute, “We are delighted that Dr. da Silva has joined our multidisciplinary team to share his unique expertise in the cone procedure.”