“Pump Head”

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Decreased Oxygen blood levels in the brain during heart surgery correlates to increased risk of suffering from the mental impairment dubbed “pump head”.Heart surgery patients in whom a heart-lung machine was used often find their brain function slipping for months or years afterward.
Studies have shown that 20-40% of patients set to undergo CABG surgery already had some degree of cognitive decline before the operation. It was assumed that this was a complication of the heart-lung machine. New studies however suggest this is caused by decreased blood flow through already diseased arteries to the brain.

  1. Cerebral oxygen desaturation predicts cognitive decline and longer hospital stay after cardiac surgery.Slater JP, et al; Ann Thorac Surg. 2009 Jan;87(1):36-44
  2. Heart-Lung Machine May Not Be the Culprit in Post-Op “Pump Head” Syndrome

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