Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

The anatomy and development of the cardiac valves

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Bob Anderson


Full text for this publication is not currently held within this repository. Alternative links are provided below where available.


Advances made in the understanding of the molecular biology of the cardiac valves have been truly spectacular. Not all of those investigating these aspects, however, have an appropriate understanding of the underlying anatomy. Partly, this reflects problems in describing the components of the various valves, a difficulty also emphasised by surgeons who repair or replace the valves. In this review, we describe briefly the overall anatomy of the cardiac valves, pointing to their similarities and differences. We then suggest that uniform terms can be developed to account for the components of the valves, treating them as complexes that guard the atrioventricular and ventriculo-arterial junctions. The atrioventricular valvar complex is made up of an annulus, leaflets, tendinous cords, and papillary muscles. The tension apparatus is required to hold the leaflets together against the force of ventricular systole. The ventriculo-arterial complex is also based on the leaflets, but supported within the valvar sinuses, and limited distally by the sinutubular junction. It is the semilunar nature of the leaflets that underscores their snug closure during ventricular diastole. The complexes thus defined can be separated to produce paired valves in the normal arrangement, or to produce common valves in the congenitally malformed hearts. Knowledge of development now permits accurate inferences to be made regarding the origin of the various components, and their relevance to valvar disease. The valvar leaflets are developed from the endocardial cushions formed in the atrioventricular canal and the outflow tract by a process of endothelial-to-mesenchymal transformation. The papillary muscles of the atrioventricular valves are then derived from the trabecular layer of the developing ventricular walls, whereas the sinuses of the ventriculo-arterial valves are formed by additional growth of the non-myocardial tissues, concomitant with excavation of the outflow cushions to form the leaflets.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Spicer DE, Bridgeman JM, Brown NA, Mohun TJ, Anderson RH

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Cardiology in the Young

Year: 2014

Volume: 24

Issue: Special Issue 6

Pages: 1008-1022

Print publication date: 01/12/2014

Online publication date: 29/12/2014

Acceptance date: 14/09/2014

ISSN (print): 1047-9511

ISSN (electronic): 1467-1107

Publisher: Cambridge University Press


DOI: 10.1017/S1047951114001942


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric