The history of cardiac surgery reflects a constant search by cardiac surgeons for safer and less-invasive ways to treat their patients. Since Dr. F. John Lewis's pioneering operation in 1952, followed by Dr. C. Walton Lillehei's first successful series of intracardiac defect repairs in the mid-1950s, cardiac surgery as a surgical subspecialty has expanded dramatically. Notably, one of the most important technological innovations in cardiac surgery was the development and modification of a cardiopulmonary bypass machine. For years, this machine has been used extensively by cardiac surgeons. Its use has enabled cardiac surgery to become a safe and reproducible daily routine in many hospitals across the country. Now, although most cardiac operations are considered somewhat standardized, continued improvements as well as recognition of the importance of postoperative recovery and quality of life remain significant concerns for patients as well as physicians.