The Different Types of Perfusion
The term “perfusion” is derived from the French verb ‘perfuse’ meaning to ‘pour over or through’. Perfusionists employ artificial blood pumps to propel open-heart surgery patients’ blood through their body tissue, replacing the function of the heart while the cardiac surgeon operates.
When a patient’s blood is continuously removed and returned through plastic tubing to allow health care professionals to perform an artificial organ function on the blood, it is called “extra-corporeal circulation (ECC)” – outside the body blood circulation.
Presently there are many “artificial organs” that can be placed in an ECC to substitute for a patient’s failing organs. The list of artificial organs presently available for clinical use includes artificial hearts (blood pump), artificial lungs (oxygenator), artificial kidneys (hemodialysis), and artificial livers.
Perfusionists are capable of combining sterile tubing and artificial organs to build an ECC to meet the needs of several physician specialists to treat patients with specific operable diseases.
Some diseases where ECC’s are employed by physician prescription are coronary artery disease, heart attacks, heart failure, heart valve disease, respiratory failure (smoker’s lung), kidney failure and surgery to transplant hearts, lungs and kidneys. ECC’s are also used to deliver chemotherapeutic drugs to cancer patients’ organs and/or limbs. To connect an ECC to a patient, a surgeon must place special tubes called ‘cannulas’ into the patient’s blood stream. The perfusionist controls the flow of blood through the ECC devices to help the physician treat the patient.
By combining different ECC components, the perfusionist constructs circuits to treat different patient group populations. The perfusionist employs their education and knowledge of anatomy, physiology, chemistry, physics and electronics to support the patient’s life-functions during various surgical and life-support procedures.
Many of the types of perfusion and the role of the perfusionist are described on other pages of our website. Please follow the links below to learn more about perfusion or contact us for further information.