Perfusion Insider Fall 2015

Perfusion Historic Facts – 1960s-1980s

In this last issue of the Perfusion Insider, we highlighted some of the technology breakthroughs that occurred during the 1950s. In this issue, we spotlight advances that impacted perfusion from the 1960s through the 1980s.


Silicone reinforced membranes are introduced into membrane oxygenators to further reduce trauma to the blood. With this modification, surgeons can use heart-lung systems over extended periods, rather than merely a few hours.

Reinforced membrane product image

Silicone reinforced membranes helped to reduce blood trauma and thereby enabled surgeons to use heart-lung machines for a longer period of time.


Perfusion systems based on the Lillehei/Dewall bubble oxygenator concept dominate the field. By 1976, approximately 90 percent of all open-heart procedures are supported by bubble oxygenator perfusion.

Original bubble oxygenator concept

Perfusion system based on the Lillehei/Dewall bubble oxygenator concept.

1976: Baxter Travenol introduces the first microporous membrane oxygenator. The first clinical use of it is at Rhode Island Hospital. By the early 1990s, microporous membrane oxygenators have replaced disc and bubble oxygenators, primarily due to their ability to permit blood-gas exchange through a a membrane that decreases the blood trauma associated with direct-contact oxygenators.

1978: Gerald Buckberg and his associates at UCLA present results associated with the use of multi-dose crystalloid cardioplegia, advancing the science of myocardial protection and the introduction of blood cardioplegia. Further research by Phillipe Menasche in Paris demonstrates the advantages of retrograde coronary sinus perfusion as an adjunct to myocardial protection.

Dr. Buckberg presenting

Dr. Gerald Buckberg


James Kirklin and Stephen Westaby show that when blood comes into contact with certain materials during perfusion, a whole-body inflammatory reaction can result. This leads to the development and use of the more biocompatible materials found on perfusion system surfaces today.