About this Program

Perfusionists are operating room specialists who conduct cardiopulmonary bypass. That is, they pump and oxygenate the blood of patients whose hearts or lungs are stopped, usually during open heart surgery.

Occasionally, perfusionists work outside the operating room, providing support for patients with circulatory failure.

Working in conjunction with cardiac surgeons, perfusionists:

  • adjust oxygen levels, change body temperatures, correct electrolyte imbalances and manipulate blood flow to meet each patient’s metabolic need
  • administer medications, blood products and fluids
  • monitor the coagulation status of a patient’s blood to prevent clotting
  • by processing their patients’ own blood, perfusionists minimize the amount of blood lost during surgery, which minimizes the need for donated blood

 

We encourage students to observe an open-heart procedure at a medical center and conduct an informational interview with a cardiovascular perfusionist.