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Facts About Perfusionists

Perfusionists, also known as cardiovascular perfusionists, are highly skilled medical professionals who primarily work in cardiac operating rooms. Their role in cardiac surgery is crucial for positive surgical outcomes. Perfusionists operate what is known as the heart-lung machine. The heart-lung machine does the work of both the heart and the lungs: pumping and oxygenating blood. Disposables are used on the heart-lung machine to pull blood from the heart, filter the patients’ blood, oxygenate the blood, heat/cool the blood, and propel the blood back into the patient. Cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) is used because of the difficulty of operating on a beating heart. CPB allows the surgeon to work on the heart while it is still and empty. The perfusionist is trained to perform these techniques in coordination with the cardiac surgeon, anesthesiologist, and other medical staff.

Other jobs that perfusionists perform include: Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), Cell Salvage (cell savers), Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) treatments, and Activating clotting time (ACT) testing.

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