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Glossary of Terms

Heart-Lung Machine
A device used in open heart surgery to support the body during the surgical procedure while the heart is stopped. The heart-lung machine is often referred to as the "pump", and does the work of the heart and lungs during the operation. The heart-lung machine consists of a chamber that receives the blood from the body, which is normally the responsibility of the heart’s right atrium. This blood is then pumped by the machine through an oxygenator, a function normally the responsibility of the right ventricle. The oxygenator removes the CO2 and adds oxygen, which is normally the work of the lungs. The pump then pumps this newly oxygenated blood back to the body, which is normally the work of the left heart. The heart-lung machine is connected to the patient by a series of tubes that the surgical team places. At the end of the operation, the surgeon gradually allows the patient’s heart to resume its normal function, and the heart-lung machine is "weaned off".


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