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I’m a Pumphead, aren’t I?


It appears that my cardiac health is restored for which I’m grateful. I have been able to resume my life and plan ahead. My planning includes another pilgrimage and several other interesting projects. Yet, I’m aware that not all is entirely well judging from several apparent deficits: concentrating, short term memory, and reduced speed of mental and motor responses. (Fortunately, I don’t view myself as depressed although others may view me differently.) Of course, these symptoms (and others) are widely attributed to open-heart surgery. While it is not proven that heart-lung machines cause cognitive problems, it does seem to be the leading suspect at this point.

Studies of postperfusion syndrome (also known as “Pumphead”) show a high incidence of these issues following open-heart surgery, but the deficits are commonly of short duration with no permanent damage [apparently] and may last a few months. It is when the symptoms persist beyond the first few months that they are of concern.

In my case, it was discovered that my graft leaked and I was rushed back to theatre and once again hooked up to a heart-lung machine for open-heart surgery. Thus, I view myself at double the risk of being a Pumphead given the reality of the heart-lung machine nexus and my cognitive problems. My condition may worsen and persist for years, and potentially for the remainder of my life. Nevertheless, I take heart.

Further reading

1. Pump Head – Cognitive Impairment After Bypass Surgery by Richard N. Fogoros, MD Updated 5 May 2016.

2. Pumphead: Does the heart-lung machine have a dark side? One man’s experience with cognitive impairment after open-heart surgery by Bruce Stutz on 9 January 2009.

3. Postperfusion syndrome Wikipedia


From → medical, safety, Surgery

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