What is a Cardiovascular Perfusionist?

The Cardiovascular Perfusionist's sole responsibility is the maintenance and operation of the heart-lung machine during cardiac surgery. The heart-lung machine is a device that circulates and oxygenates a patient's blood outside of their body (extracorporeally). This allows the surgeon to operate on a still, unmoving heart and keeps the patient alive during procedures where it is necessary to bypass the heart. The perfusionist can use the heart-lung machine to monitor a patient's vitals and to adjust the temperature of the patient's blood during surgery.

Types of Work Environments

  • Hospital operating rooms

Education and Training Requirements

Perfusion programs are typically one to four years, certification programs often require that applicants have previously completed a bachelor's degree with college-level science and mathematics. A background in medical technology, respiratory therapy, and nursing is advantageous.


According to salary.com, the median salary for a cardiovascular perfusionist is $154,450 per year.

Professional Organization

The American Board of Cardiovascular Perfusion

Learn More

Visit the Cleveland Clinic Cardiovascular Perfusion Program webpage.