The heart - a high performance device
Given the fact that the average healthy heart beats 60 to 80 times per minute, the average heart contracts approximately 100,000 over a 24 hour period.
Although this may seem like a lot, it is worth remembering that this is what the heart accomplishes on a single day. Naturally, during sporting activity the heart rate may increase up to 150 beats per minute. In extreme situations, this may lead to a cardiac output of over 20 litres per minute. This is, of course, considerably more than the normal cardiac output of approximately 5 litres per minute, which also happens to be the average adult's total volume of blood.
The heart is a hollow, muscular organ, about the size of a fist, which is encased in a sac called the pericardium. The coronary arteries run across the heart and supply blood to the heart muscle.
Perfusion technology unit
Since early 1993, cardiac surgery patients from the Ludwigshafen area have had access to a fully equipped Cardiac Surgery unit. With the opening of the Cardiac Surgery Clinic came the opening of the Perfusion Technology (or Perfusiology) Unit, which is currently staffed with four perfusionists.
Perfusiology is mainly concerned with extracorporeal circulation, i.e. replacing cardiopulmonary function while the heart is stopped during open heart surgery.
Perfusionists are also responsible for operating and servicing all devices used to support the heart, such as left and right ventricular assist devices and the intra-aortic balloon pumps to improve cardiac muscle oxygen perfusion, as well as providing constant access to devices to support lung function.
Perfusionists are also responsible for constant and consistent quality assurance relating to the selection of products and materials used in cardiac surgery. Naturally, this aspect of their work is subject to regular monitoring and standardisation. Innovation and creativity ensure that we will be able to continue to offer our patients the best treatment options available.
An on-call service is provided outside normal working hours and on weekends, ensuring that perfusionists are available 24 hours a day.