International Perfusion Association


What is a Perfusionist

A perfusionist stands as a highly skilled allied health professional, meticulously trained and educated to integrate seamlessly into open-heart surgical teams. Tasked with overseeing the intricate orchestration of a mechanical apparatus commonly known as the “heart-lung machine,” the perfusionist assumes a pivotal role in the realm of cardiac surgery.

In the course of various open-heart procedures, the perfusionist facilitates a temporary cessation of the patient’s heart function, providing a conducive environment for surgical interventions. This entails redirecting the patient’s blood away from the heart and lungs, channeling it into the heart-lung machine. This sophisticated device extracts, oxygenates, and then returns the blood to the patient, effectively taking on the physiological roles of both the heart and lungs.

The perfusionist’s responsibilities extend beyond mere operation of the heart-lung machine. Vigilantly monitoring the altered circulatory process during surgery, they are poised to take corrective action in response to any deviations from the norm. Maintaining open lines of communication with the surgeon and anesthesiologist, the perfusionist ensures a collaborative and informed approach throughout the surgical procedure.

Moreover, the perfusionist assumes a supportive role in various medical specialties. Operating mechanical devices aimed at conserving blood and blood products during surgery, they also provide extended, long-term support for the patient’s circulation beyond the confines of the operating room. The precise duties and responsibilities of a perfusionist may vary, contingent upon the policies and practices of the specific institution in which they are employed.

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