What is Cardiopulmonary Bypass?


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Cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) is a technique that temporarily takes over the function of the heart and lungs during surgery, maintaining the circulation of blood and the oxygen content of the body.

Cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) is a technique that temporarily takes over the function of the heart and lungs during surgery, maintaining the circulation of blood and the oxygen content of the body. The CPB pump itself is often referred to as a heart–lung machine or “the pump”. Cardiopulmonary bypass pumps are operated by perfusionists, medically directed by anesthesiologists, and surgically directed by cardiac surgeons who connect the pump to the patient’s body.

CPB is a form of extracorporeal circulation.Cardiopulmonary bypass is commonly used in heart surgery because of the difficulty of operating on the beating heart. Operations requiring the opening of the chambers of the heart require the use of CPB to support the circulation during that period. The machine nourishes the blood cells and allows them to continue cellular respiration even through surgery.

CPB can be used for the induction of total body hypothermia, a state in which the body can be maintained for up to 45 minutes without perfusion (blood flow). If blood flow is stopped at normal body temperature, permanent brain damage normally occurs in three to four minutes — death may follow shortly afterward. Similarly, CPB can be used to rewarm individuals suffering from hypothermia Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is a simplified form of CPB sometimes used as life-support for newborns with serious birth defects, or to oxygenate and maintain recipients for organ transplantation until new organs can be found. CPB mechanically circulates and oxygenates blood for the body while bypassing the heart and lungs. It uses a heart–lung machine to maintain perfusion to other body organs and tissues while the surgeon works in a bloodless surgical field.

The surgeon places a cannula in right atrium, vena cava, or femoral vein to withdraw blood from the body. The cannula is connected to tubing filled with isotonic crystalloid solution. Venous blood that is removed from the body by the cannula is filtered, cooled or warmed, oxygenated, and then returned to the body. The cannula used to return oxygenated blood is usually inserted in the ascending aorta, but it may be inserted in the femoral artery. The patient is administered heparin to prevent clotting, and protamine sulfate is given after to reverse effects of heparin. During the procedure, hypothermia is maintained; body temperature is usually kept at 28ºC to 32ºC (82.4–89.6ºF). The blood is cooled during CPB and returned to the body. The cooled blood slows the body’s basal metabolic rate, decreasing its demand for oxygen. Cooled blood usually has a higher viscosity, but the crystalloid solution used to prime the bypass tubing dilutes the blood.


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