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First in Nebraska: Leading the Way with Innovative Heart Care

Cardiovascular surgery team

Dr. Robert Gallegos, Cardiac Chief of Surgery, and the cardiovascular surgery team at CHI Health CUMC - Bergan Mercy.

In a groundbreaking medical milestone, the Cardiovascular Surgery team at CHI Health CUMC - Bergan Mercy has performed Nebraska’s first Aortic Valve Replacement using a sutureless valve.

Spearheaded by CHI Health Cardiac Chief of Surgery, Dr. Robert Gallegos, this novel approach signifies a significant leap forward in cardiac surgery. The procedure, the first of which was performed on November 17, utilized a sutureless bioprosthetic valve, a major departure from traditional SAVR (Surgical Aortic Valve Replacement) valves, boasting a design that eliminates the need for a sewing cuff.

“What holds this valve in place as opposed to sutures is that it is essentially a large stent,” explained Dr. Gallegos.

What sets this sutureless valve apart is its remarkable efficiency, reducing the typical operating time by half when compared to conventional SAVR procedures. This time-saving aspect holds tremendous promise, especially in cases involving multiple procedures or higher-risk patients.

“What this valve is really useful for on top of giving a more appropriate valve size is that it saves a lot of time in the operating room while you’re on the heart and lung machine.”

Dr. Gallegos noted that with the sutureless valve, the replacement can be done in about 15 to 20 minutes, whereas a standard valve would take about an hour. A shorter operating time translates to reduced exposure to anesthesia and less reliance on the cardiopulmonary bypass machine, leading to swifter and smoother recoveries for patients.

“The less time we stay on bypass the better it is for patients in the long run. Everything we would consider bad as part of an open-heart operation, this helps minimize.”

Another benefit of this technique is its compatibility with Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) procedures that opens avenues for easier valve replacements without the need for reopening the patient, fostering a progressive approach to future cardiac interventions.

As of December of 2023, Dr. Gallegos and his team have successfully performed six cases.

“I think what this really represents is that we are moving towards offering the most advanced technology available to our patients. It is something you will be seeing a lot more of as time goes by.”

Providers looking for more information, or to connect about a patient please call (402) 399-9990.