What Do Perfusionists Do?
A perfusionist is a highly-trained allied health professional. As a member of an open-heart surgical team, the perfusionist is responsible for the selection, setup and operation of the heart-lung machine. A cardiovascular perfusionist operates specialized equipment during any medical procedure requiring artificial support or temporarily replacement of a patient's circulatory or respiratory functions, such as in open-heart surgery.
During many types of open-heart surgery, the patient's heart is stopped so that it is safer for the surgeon to operate. The patient's blood is diverted away from the heart and lungs into a heart-lung machine. The machine takes blood out of the body, oxygenates it and returns it to the patient. In effect, the machine assumes the function of both the heart and the lungs. The perfusionist is responsible for operating the machine during surgery, monitoring the altered circulatory process closely, taking appropriate corrective action when abnormal situations arise and keeping both the surgeon and the anesthesiologist fully informed.
Perfusionists routinely administer various types of blood products, medications and control the temperature of patients during surgery. They also support other medical specialties in operating mechanical devices to assist in the conservation of blood products during surgery and provide extended support of the patient's post-operative circulation. Recent advances include the ABO incompatible protocols for transplantation, blood conservation, regional cerebral perfusion during hypothermic circulatory arrest and introduction of rapid mechanical support in emergency ICU situations. Our experts advance the cutting edge of this technology, publishing their research in national, peer-reviewed journals. They serve as board and committee members for national perfusion societies, are clinical instructors and volunteer their professional services for international mission trips.
Our Experienced Cardiac Perfusionists
Offering more than 40 years of collective pediatric perfusion experience, our Heart Center perfusionists are:
- Bradley Kulat, CCP, LP, coordinator of perfusion services, co-director of the American Board of Cardiovascular Perfusion
- Neale Zingle, CCP, LP, clinical perfusionist, pediatric committee member, American Society of Extra Corporeal Technology
- Steve Moss, CCP, LP, clinical perfusionist, Mission ambassador, International Pediatric Surgery Group