What is Cardiopulmonary Bypass?

Use of the heart-lung machine in cardiac surgery is called cardiopulmonary bypass. Cardiopulmonary bypass provides patients with cardiac and pulmonary support, while bypassing the heart and lungs. Cardiopulmonary bypass artificially provides patients three physiologic processes or functions:

  • It adds oxygen to the blood
  • It pumps or circulates the blood through both the cardiopulmonary bypass circuit and the patient
  • It removes excess carbon dioxide from the blood

To accomplish this, the surgeon inserts cannulas, which are small tubes, into the patient’s major veins (typically the superior vena cava and inferior vena cava) and arteries (typically the aorta). Once the cannulas from the patient have been connected to the cardiopulmonary bypass circuit, the blood is drained from the veins into the heart-lung machine while the blood is pumped into an artificial lung (oxygenator), which adds oxygen and removes carbon dioxide. 

The oxygenated blood is pumped back to the aorta to provide oxygen to the tissues and organs of the patient. 

Who Operates the Heart-lung Machine?

The person responsible for performing cardiopulmonary bypass is called a cardiovascular perfusionist. The perfusionist works in tandem and under the supervision of the surgeon and anesthesiologist.

Our team of Certified Clinical Perfusionists (CCP) are highly trained in many different aspects of patient management as it relates to cardiovascular surgery and disease and is skilled in the operation of all equipment used in cardiopulmonary bypass and extracorporeal support.

Services We Offer

  • Cardiopulmonary bypass
  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO): Short-term lung and/or cardiac support using an artificial lung and pump.
  • Ventricular Assist Devices: Short and long-term support used to help the heart recover or bridge to transplantation.
  • Autotransfusion: The patients’ blood is scavenged or saved during surgery, then washed and cleaned, and given back. This is a technique to avoid the use of banked blood.
  • Normovolemic Hemodilution: After an IV is inserted; the patients’ blood is drawn off and saved, then given back after surgery is complete. This is another technique to avoid the use of banked blood.
  • Modified Ultrafiltration/Hemofiltration: During and after cardiopulmonary bypass, this technique is used to remove extra fluid from the body's tissue.
  • Heart, lung and liver transplantation

Resources for Professionals

  • Teaching 
    • Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) School of Health Professions
    • Midwestern University- Cardiovascular Science Program
    • State University of New York (SUNY) Allied Health Professions
  • Cardio Access database management: Our department is responsible for administering and maintaining this database (www.cardioaccess.com).
  • Research: Our department is active in bench top, animal and clinical research pertaining to perfusion techniques and patient management.
  • Mission work: Our staff participates in helping third world countries combat pediatric cardiac disease by attending mission trips sponsored by non-for profit organizations (www.heartcareintl.org and www.babyheart.org).

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