Some Thoughts about Pump Configuration and Design: Collin Green

“Admittedly there are machines today where the arterial pump can be re-positioned closer to the table and sometimes higher but to the best of my knowledge sucker and cardioplegia pumps tend to stay on the machine base.


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Editor’s Note:


I would like to introduce you to a perfusionist that contacted me recently and is the author of this remarkable article:


Mr. Collin Green:

photo Colin & Inger

Colin completed his nursing education in 1960 at Odstock Hospital in Salisbury, UK.

 In 1961 he joined the O.R. team at St.Georges Hospital in London UK as an instrument nurse and assistant to the perfusionist using the Drew machine for hypothermic autogenous oxygenation. In 1962 he moved to the Thoracic Unit at Guys Hospital in London UK and joined the perfusion team there. He continued his perfusion career at Guys Hospital and was the first European perfusionist to present at an AmSECT meeting in 1968 at the Jack Tar Hotel in San Francisco.. In 1969 he relocated to Toronto,Canada, joining Cardiovascular Specialties Ltd as the project and production manager for a fascia lata valve developed at Guys hospital by Mr. Donald Ross. Colin had acquired the rights to the equipment through his private company – Perfusion Associates Ltd.

In 1971 he joined Polystan, starting and managing two distribution companies in North America – Polystan North America Inc. in Bloomington and Polystan Canada Ltd in Toronto. He initiated the first AmSECT award – the Polystan Education and Travel Award which was given for the first time in 1972. In 1973 he relocated to Copenhagen, Denmark continuing his career with Polystan in various capacities but mainly working internationally in a Technical and Clinical Support function. Colin continues to live in Denmark and he and his Danish wife have two children and four grandchildren living in Oakville, Ontario, Canada and Billericay, Essex, U.K. respectively. 

In 2001 Jostra acquired  Polystan and in 2003 Maquet acquired Jostra. From 2003 until 2007, when Colin retired, he supported the Maquet Cardiopulmonary activities in South East Asia.

Since 2007 he has been a consultant with Maquet Cardiopulmonary supporting and contributing to their marketing and product management activities.

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By Collin Green

Colin G. Green, Copenhagen, Denmark. ([email protected])

I was recently chatting with an overseas perfusionist who sent me a photo of his pediatric CPB circuit set-up. He was particularly pleased with his low priming volume which was due to thoughtful design and tubing positioning: He positioned his venous/cardiotomy reservoir close to the table and about 20 cm lower than the patient’s right atrium giving him a relatively short venous line.  He applied a touch of vacuum to the reservoir to assist his venous drainage. So everything looked good apart from his long sucker lines, both from the patient to the pumps and especially from the pumps to the higher reservoir, and his longer reservoir outlet to pump and oxygenator, and arterial line from pump to patient.. His machine was a conventional “4 in a row” modular pump configuration.

This started a discussion’ initiated by myself,  on the merits and de-merits of conventional horizontal “3/4/5 in a row” modular pump machines. Admittedly there are machines today where the arterial pump can be re-positioned closer to the table and sometimes higher but to the best of my knowledge sucker and cardioplegia pumps tend to stay on the machine base. We both agreed that  in principal it would be advantageous to have multi-positionable pumps  to allow even more optimal circuit design . As far as I know there have only been two machines in recent years that have had multi-pump position flexibility – the Maquet HL 30 (on the left) and the Medtronic Performer.

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Neither of these  seem to have caught on and there could be many reasons for this , both technically and commercially. The thought has crossed my mind that maybe they were too unconventional perhaps confirming that  perfusionists generally are traditionalists and don’t like change. However they both allowed sucker lines to come in straight from the table and the oxygenator and arterial pump to be positioned higher in relation to patient and table. Maybe they weren’t that popular because they were primarily “stand-up and run” machines !  Todays perfusionists are used to sitting comfortably even though this means bending and stretching to access circuit components and hardware.

There are 3 currently available machines where pumps can be pole-mounted. From left to right  the Sorin S5, Terumo System 1 and the Japanese Mera HAS 11.

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Now  if we look back into history it’s interesting to note that the early machines from the late 1950’s  did not have modular blood pumps. It was before their time.  In fact the machine that performed the first successful cardiopulmonary bypass in 1953, the Gibbon machine, was a “stand-up and run” machine with pumps and oxygenator on the top surface. Below are examples of 4 machines from that period.

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The first two are pictured above and on the left is the  Gibbon Mark 2 machine with the vertical screen oxygenator.  On the right is the machine as modified by Dr  John Kirklin at  the Mayo Clinic.


Above is the Guys-Ross machine with a Kay-Cross rotating disc oxygenator (C) with a venous reservoir (E). The arterial pump was on the side beneath the vertical stainless heat exchanger. There was one suction pump (B) on the top surface with a suction chamber (A). I did my first perfusions at Guys Hospital in London, England  with this machine in 1962. Venous drainage was by gravity, no vacuum , into the venous reservoir. There was a drainage height of about 30 cm with generally  no drainage problems.

Interestingly the Kay-Cross disc oxygenator was inspired by an early disc oxygenator developed by Dr. Viking Bjoerk in Stockholm, Sweden in  1948.   Below is this oxygenator which consisted of  forty 13 cm diameter stainless  discs in groups of 4 that oxygenated  blood flows of up to 1100 ml/min. Dr. Bjoerk used this oxygenator for cerebral perfusion during occlusion of the vena cavae.


The Kay-Cross oxygenator was made in Cleveland, Ohio by Pemco Inc.  and below is a photo of another “stand up and run” machine. This one made by Pemco with the disc oxygenator.


Again, oxygenator, pumps and heat exchanger on top of the machine at table level.

Lastly, one more “stand-up and run” machine. This time made in Copenhagen, Denmark by Polystan.  This machine was designed to be used with one of the first disposable, pre-sterilzed bubble oxygenators, also made by Polystan. The first clinical with this machine was in Copenhagen on the 22nd of February 1957.


The arterial pump was on the left-hand side on top of the base cabinet. There were 3 vacuum chambers for 3 individual sucker lines. Vacuum to these chambers was supplied from a vacuum pump in the machine base and the amount of vacuum was controllable for each chamber. If you look carefully you’ll see a butchers scale at the back of the machine. This constantly weighed the oxygenator displaying its weight. A very simple and effective means of seeing  and measuring volume changes in the oxygenator. The machine was placed at right-angles to the table with short sucker and venous lines .For those of you who have not seen this bubbler before, venous and suction blood entered the vertical column on the right into which oxygen bubbles were introduced. At the top of the column the blood entered and flowed horizonatally into and through an antifoam coated defoamer. The blood then flowed into and through two inverted U-shaped bubble traps with pocket filters finally entering the left-hand vertical outlet section. The arterial reservoir section was collapsible so that gross air could not leave the oxygenator should the reservoir empty. The walls collapsed.

The following is probably the most iconic and important machine and oxygenator configuration ever produced and used. Not because of its elegance or its engineering,  but because of its simplicity and component availability,  it was responsible for the general start of open heart surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass worldwide. I am of course referring to the Lillehei-DeWall machine and oxygenator, another “stand-up and run” machine.

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The bubble oxygenator, above left on top of the trolley, was made from three lengths of tubing – the vertical bubble column, slanting defoaming chamber and helix arterial reservoir that was positioned in a water bath. These tubing lengths were disposable and new lengths were used for each perfusion. Venous drainage was by gravity into a reservoir chamber from which a Sigmamotor pump pumped the blood to the bottom of the bubble column. Suction was vacuum assisted into a separate reservoir chamber positioned close to the floor. A second Sigmamotor pump transferred this blood to the bottom of the bubble column into which oxygen bubbles were introduced. The oxygenated blood then passed into the defoaming section and helix arterial reservoir where a third Sigmamotor pump transferred the arterialized blood to the patient. The first clinicals at the University of Minnesota were done in 1956. The oxygenator was further developed into a disposable, pre-sterilized sheet oxygenator which became available from Travenol Laboratories in 1957.

In 1963  a machine with some of the earliest modular pumps was produced by Sarns  Inc. in Ann Arbor.


So far so good. We  can conclude that, with the exception of the Polystan machine from 1957,  modular pumps first became available and in use on pump bases with the introduction of disposable commercial bubble oxygenators. At the same time gravity venous drainage  became the standard,with the disposable bubblers having their venous inlets close to floor level. It’s interesting to note that between about 1960 and 1980 an estimated 25 to 30 commercial, disposable, pre-sterilized bubble oxygenators became available, all of which had venous inlets close to floor level.  I forgot to mention that with these commercial bubblers, a separate cardiotomy reservoir was needed  into which suction blood was pumped before leaving by gravity to the bubble column. This reservoir was usually positioned a little higher than the bubbler.

With todays almost total use worldwide of membrane oxygenators with top inlet,  hardshell integrated venous/cardiotomy reservoirs, there seems to be no need for large patient /reservoir drainage heights.especially as VAVD solutions are available. As we all know too great a drainage height can result in reduced drainage due to partial occlusion of venous cat heter tips.  In my opinon there are many clinical and practical advantages  in positioning reservoirs both higher and closer to the table. To take full advantage of this possibility all pumps need to be positioned higher and correctly in relation to their function. This is particularly true for sucker pumps as suction is known to be the main source of  blood trauma during CPB.

So, I ask you all why aren’t more machine produced and used with multi-positional pumps ?  Why does industry continue building conventional machines with “3/4/5 in a row” modular pumps on a base.? Why do todays perfusionists  continue to accept this configuration ?

NOTE: Some of the images used in this blog, are from my presentation given to the American Academy of Cardiovascular Perfusion ( meeting in Savannah on February 6 this year.

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