Paramedical in Cardiac Care / Perfusion Technician
Cardiovascular perfusion is a procedure employed during open-heart surgery to replace the normal functions of the heart and lungs in Cardiac Care, allowing the heart to be stopped to facilitate surgery. Cardiovascular Perfusionists are responsible for maintaining a patient’s circulation and respiration during surgery through the preparation and operation of extra-corporeal circulation equipment.
A Perfusionist also known as a Clinical Perfusionist or a Cardio-Pulmonary Perfusionist, is a trained allied health professional who uses artificial blood pumps to propel a patients blood during open-heart surgery, extra corporeal life support, and orthopedic and vascular surgery. During open heart surgery, the patients heart is stopped to allow the cardiac surgeon to work. When the heart is stopped the patients blood is diverted into a heart/lung machine, which oxygenates the blood and returns it to the patients body. The perfusionist who operates this machine is responsible for replacing the function of the heart while the cardiac surgeon operates.
The main duties of the Perfusionist include:
- Operating the heart and lung machine during surgeries that require cardiopulmonary bypass e.g. heart bypass surgery, major organ and heart transplants and heart valve repair. Working closely with the cardiothoracic surgical team, including cardiac surgeons, anesthesiologists, surgical technicians and nurses.
- Responsible for the circulatory and respiratory functions of the heart lung machine.
- Making it possible for the surgeon to operate on an unbeating heart.
- Allowing the surgical team to carry out their duties without having to deal with the immediate needs of the patient.
- Monitoring the heart and lung machine closely when in operation, and taking corrective action in the event of an emergency.
- Keeping the Surgeon and Anesthesiologist informed.
- Cardiovascular Perfusionists are important members of the open-heart surgical team whose primary role is to conduct cardiopulmonary bypass using a heart-lung machine and other ancillary equipment. They closely monitor the patient’s blood flow and other vital signs during open heart surgery and are also responsible for administering intravenous fluids, blood products and anesthetic drugs. Perfusionists are also experts of other life support equipment such as ventricular assist devices and intraaortic balloon pumps.
Cardiac Care Syllabus:
Subjects covered by the examinations include: – Anatomy and Physiology, Pathology, Pharmacology, Laboratory Analysis, Devices and Equipment, Quality Assurance, Special Patient Groups, Clinical Management, Special Procedures / Special Techniques, Monitoring and Catastrophic Events and Device Failure
The job prospects in this highly skilled field are excellent, but vary depending on location, experience, position held and qualifications. Certification is mandatory in order to practice. Continuing education is also necessary to maintain certification.
Hospitals with Cardiac care facilities.
Cardiovascular Perfusionists are integral members of open-heart surgical teams. Previous critical care experiences and skills are used in a new and exciting way – taking it to the next level.