Heart

The heart is a hollow, muscular organ of the middle mediastinum, designed to pump oxygenated blood around the systemic circulation and de-oxygenated blood around the pulmonary circulation

The heart has a somewhat conical form and is enclosed by pericardium. It is positioned posteriorly to the body of the sternum with one-third of it is situated on the right and two-thirds on the left of the midline.

The heart measures 12 x 8.5 x 6 cm and weighs ~310 g (males) and ~255 g (females) 1

The heart is subdivided by septa into right and left halves, and a constriction subdivides each half of the organ into two cavities, the upper cavity being called the atrium, the lower the ventricle. The heart, therefore, consists of four chambers:

The division of the heart into four cavities is indicated on its surface by grooves. The atria are separated from the ventricles by the coronary sulcus (atrioventricular groove); this contains the trunks of the nutrient vessels of the heart and is deficient in front, where it is crossed by the root of the pulmonary artery. The interatrial groove, separating the two atria, is scarcely marked on the posterior surface while anteriorly it is hidden by the pulmonary trunk and ascending aorta.

The ventricles are separated by two grooves, one of which, the anterior longitudinal sulcus, is situated on the sternocostal surface of the heart, close to its left margin, the other posterior longitudinal sulcus, on the diaphragmatic surface near the right margin; these grooves extend from the base of the ventricular portion to a notch, the incisura apicis cordis, on the acute margin of the heart just to the right of the apex.

The outflow of each chamber is guarded by a heart valve:

It is best to remember the four chambers and four valves in order of the series that blood travels through the heart:

The heart can be described as having the following surfaces:

  • posterior surface (base)
    • directed upward, backward and to the right
    • formed mainly by the left atrium and little by the right atrium
  • apex
    • directed downward, forward and to the left
    • formed by the left ventricle
  • anterior (sternocostal) surface
    • directed forward, upward and to the left
    • formed mainly by the right ventricle inferiorly and superiorly by the atria
  • inferior (diaphragmatic) surface
    • directed downward, slightly backward
    • formed by the ventricles
    • rests mainly upon the central tendon of the diaphragm
  • right surface
    • long; formed by right atrium superiorly and right ventricle inferiorly
  • left (pulmonary) surface
    • shorter rounded; formed mainly by the left ventricle and a little superiorly by the left atrium

The heart has four borders:

  • right border: IVC, right atrium, SVC
  • left border: left ventricle, left atrium, pulmonary trunk and arch of aorta
  • inferior border: right ventricle
  • superior border: right and left atria, SVC, ascending aorta and pulmonary trunk 

See: Silhouette sign

See main articles: coronary arteries, coronary arterial dominance and coronary veins

The myocardium is divided into 17 myocardial segments according to the AHA nomenclature.

See main article: innervation of the heart

Various lymphatic plexuses drain into a right cardiac collecting trunk (draining to anterior mediastinal nodes) and a left cardiac collecting trunk (draining to tracheobronchial nodes and onto paratracheal nodes). 

The line can become somewhat blurred between what constitutes an anatomical variation and congenital heart disease but the key differentiator could be considered the presence or absence of symptoms in the majority of cases:

There is also considerable variation in the anatomy of the coronary circulation and pulmonary veins. 


Thoracic anatomy
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Article Information

rID: 7366
Systems: Cardiac, Chest
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Heart anatomy
  • Anatomy of the heart
  • Cardiac anatomy

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    Figure 1: anterior and posterior cardiac surfaces
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    Figure 2: sectional anatomy
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