How Does a Pulmonary Machine (Heart Lung Machine) Work?

Heart and lung machines look like incredibly complicated machines. However, it is really made up of just a number of core parts, and once you understand these, the rest of the machine is easy to understand too.

pulmonary machine

You do have to be aware that a heart lung machine only gets used by surgeons during intra-cardiac surgery. When this surgery takes place, the sternum is split, after which the ribs are spread. This allows the pericardium to be opened so that the heart and aorta are exposed. At this point, the patient will be connected to the pulmonary machine.

How it Works

First of all, blood is supplied by the body’s major veins. Deoxygenated blood is moved to a venous reservoir by a roller pump. This reservoir generally already includes some blood, which is an important safety feature. Doing it this way means that there is always blood available to pump through the system. Before being pumped into the arteries, it goes through a filtration system. The machines also allow for the temperature of the blood to be regulated if necessary.

When someone has to get hooked up to the machine, there has to be tubing available that has a balanced electrolyte solution. Next, nurses will places cannulas in the arteries and veins, which are generally the inferior and superior vena cava. Then, the ascending aorta is hooked to a cannula, through which re-oxygenated blood is sent back into the body.

Of course, the heart has to be clamped shut before doing this, as it would otherwise mean blood goes back into the heart itself. Usually, the heart gets paralyzed by a cardioplegia pump, which sends a solution with heparin, which paralyses the heart but also stops blood from clotting.

Of course, there are many other important factors to take into consideration as well. Nobody who hasn’t received proper medical training should ever use a pulmonary machine. Additionally, there are a number of safety aspects that have to be maintained at all times. The first is hygiene. Surgeons, nurses and any other health care professional has to have gone through the proper scrubbing procedures. The machine itself must also have been fully sterilised before use. Additionally, hospitals and medical settings have to have PAT testing or other similar types of procedures to ensure the electrical components of the machine are still in full working order.

A heart lung machine quite literally keeps a person alive during surgery. This demonstrates how important it is that it is fully operation and does not have any problems with it. It also makes it clear why it is so important that the machine is in full working order at all times. Human mistakes happen, and as unfortunate as they may be, people tend to have some degree of understanding for this. They will not, on the other hand, have any understanding for a faulty machine, which is something that should never happen. It cannot be stressed enough, therefore, that the machine is always checked before use.