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Heart Bypass Surgery

Underlying Problem:
Heart bypass surgery is a procedure use when it is necessary to actually operate on a patient\'s heart. Because it is nearly impossible to perform surgery one a beating hear, it is necessary to create a situation in which it can hold still. In order to make that happen, cardiopulmonary bypass is utilized. There are other uses, as well, such as when doctors are inducing hypothermia or as life support for newborns with birth defects.

Treatment:
Heart bypass surgery is a complex procedure performed by qualified surgeons who work alongside perfusionists who operate the cardiopulmonary bypass pumps. The cardiopulmonary bypass is a device that allows blood to be circulated without traveling through the heart. This is referred to as \"extracorporeal circulation\". As the blood also avoids the lungs, it is oxygenated through this process, as well.

In order to divert the blood flow, a cannula is placed into the right atrium, femoral vein, or vena cava. The blood then leaves the body to be filtered and oxygenated. It may then be either cooled or warmed and returned to the body, usually through the ascending aorta. The doctor will often induce hypothermia in the patient in order to create a longer window of operating time. The body will be kept between 28 and 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Recovery from Heart Bypass Surgery:
The recovery process from heart bypass surgery is going to depend quite a bit on the type of procedure that was being performed in addition to the cardiopulmonary bypass. In most cases, it is quite extensive and may require up to a year before the patient can resume his or her full range of normal activities.

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