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Perfusion is the passage of fluid through the circulatory system or lymphatic system to an organ or a tissue, usually referring to the delivery of blood to a capillary bed in tissue. The word is derived from the French verb "perfuser" meaning to "pour over or through". All animal tissues require an adequate blood supply for health and life. Poor perfusion (malperfusion), that is, ischemia, causes health problems, as seen for example in coronary artery disease, deep vein thrombosis, and many other conditions.
Tests verifying that adequate perfusion exists are a part of a patient's assessment process that are performed by medical or emergency personnel. The most common methods include evaluating a body's skin color, temperature, condition (dry/soft/firm/swollen/sunken/etc), and capillary refill.
During major surgery, especially cardiothoracic surgery, perfusion must be maintained and managed by the health professionals involved, rather than left to the body's homeostasis alone. As the lead surgeons are often too busy to handle all hemodynamic control by themselves, specialists called perfusionists manage this aspect. There are more than one hundred thousand perfusion procedures annually.
In 1920, August Krogh was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovering the mechanism of regulation of capillaries in skeletal muscle. Krogh was the first to describe the adaptation of blood perfusion in muscle and other organs according to demands through the opening and closing of arterioles and capillaries.
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