Perfusionists are vital members of the cardiovascular surgical team because they are responsible for running the heart-lung (cardiopulmonary bypass) machine.
During certain operations, such as open heart surgery, the doctors must stop the patient’s heart. A heart-lung machine is used to keep the patient’s blood flowing until the heart can be restarted. The person who operates the heart-lung machine is called a cardiac perfusionist.
If the patient requires additional blood products or medications during the procedure, the perfusionist can administer these through the heart-lung machine. The perfusionist also monitors and controls the patient’s body temperature by increasing or decreasing the temperature of the patient’s blood as it passes through the machine.
In addition to these critical responsibilities in the operating theater, the perfusionist also evaluates and selects new equipment, orders supplies, and oversees technical support staff. Because perfusion technologists are needed for most open heart operations, they are in great demand.
Perfusionists typically complete a four-year degree plus specialized training to satisfy the requirements of certification. Find an accredited certification or master’s program in perfusion.
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- About Careers - Perfusionist
- American Society of ExtraCorporeal Technology
- American Academy of Cardiovascular Perfusion
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