Brain preservation during heart surgery.



How does the brain not die during heart surgery when there is no blood flow, sometimes for many minutes?

In: Biology

If heart surgery requires the heart to be stopped, a bypass machine is used to circulate and oxygenate the blood.

Look up a heart-lung machine.

It acts as an artificial heart and lungs. Surgeons will reroute blood from the vena cava (which brings blood to the heart) into a tube to the heart-lung machine which oxygenates the blood and pumps it back into your aorta (which brings blood away from the heart). In that single step, the machine has bypassed both your lungs (by oxygenating the blood) and your heart (by pumping it).

You could theoretically remain on the machine for extended periods of time if it didn’t involve having your chest gaping open which is clearly not ideal in the long-term.