Perfusion Services

The Perfusion Services Department is a part of the Heart and Vascular Institute. Perfusion services are provided to patients who are having open heart surgery or other medical procedures that involve the heart-lung machine. Under the direction of the anesthesiologist and surgeon, perfusionists may also administer medicines through the cardiopulmonary bypass circuit. Perfusionists communicate and work closely with physicians and other health care providers from multiple disciplines.

During open heart surgery, the perfusionist is responsible for diversion of the patient’s blood to the heart-lung machine. The heart-lung machine provides safe passage of the patient’s blood to an oxygenator where blood receives oxygen and is then returned to the patient. This allows for a bloodless, motionless heart on which the cardiac surgeons can operate and repair the damaged area of the heart.

Perfusionists are specially trained and must attend an accredited school of cardiovascular perfusion. After graduating, they sit for two separate examinations given by the American Board of Cardiovascular Perfusion (ABCP) to acquire certification (CCP). With CCP certification, they can apply for Pennsylvania licensure (LP). All of our perfusionists are ABCP CPP’s and Pennsylvania LP’s, and are all pursuing American Society of Extracorporeal Technology (AmSECT) Fellow of Pediatric Perfusion (FPP) credentialing. This qualification recognizes pediatric clinical, research, and didactic experiences.

Referral Requirements

Patients are not referred directly to Perfusion Services but receive this service in conjunction with the Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery Department in the UPMC Children’s Heart Institute. For more information, see the referral requirements for Pediatric Cardiology.