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Heart-lung machine, Europe, 1950-1979

Operated by a specially trained technician, a heart-lung machine replaces the function of the heart and lungs during open heart surgery. A mechanical pump takes over from the heart, with blood taken from the body and pumped over a membrane to gain oxygen and rid it of carbon dioxide. Flow meters record the levels of the gases. Heart-lung machines were first developed in the 1950s. Today, some surgeries are carried out while the heart is still beating. Here, the heart-lung machine is shown in a scene depicting an operating theatre from the 1980s.

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Glossary: open heart surgery

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Glossary: heart-lung machine

A machine used to take over the functions of the heart and lungs during surgery. It allows a surgeon to carefully stop the heart while the vital organs continue to receive blood and oxygen.