Heart-Lung Machine

What is a heart-lung machine?

A heart-lung machine—also called a cardiopulmonary bypass machine—is a device that takes over the function of the body’s heart and lungs during open heart or traditional surgery. The machine circulates the essential oxygen-rich blood to the brain and other vital organs during open-heart surgery, allowing the cardiac surgery team to operate on a heart that is blood-free and still. When the surgery is complete, the heart is restarted and the heart-lung machine is disconnected.

The heart-lung machine intercepts the blood at the right atrium (upper heart chamber) before it passes into the heart. Using a pump, the machine delivers the blood to a reservoir, which adds oxygen to the blood. The pump then sends the oxygen-rich blood to the aorta and through the rest of the body.

The machine, which is operated by a trained and certified specialist called a perfusion technologist, also removes carbon dioxide and other waste products from the blood and delivers anesthesia and medications into the recirculated blood. Also, in some cases, it cools the blood. Cool blood lowers the body’s temperature, which helps to further protect the brain and other vital organs during surgery.

If you or someone close to you is experiencing a potential heart problem, call 911 in case of an emergency. For more information, please contact us at 541-222-7218 or 888-240-6484.