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The anatomy and development of normal and abnormal coronary arteries

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Deborah HendersonORCiD, Professor Bob Anderson


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At present, there is significant interest in the morphology of the coronary arteries, not least due to the increasingly well-recognised association between anomalous origin of the arteries and sudden cardiac death. Much has also been learnt over the last decade regarding the embryology of the arteries. In this review, therefore, we provide a brief introduction into the recent findings regarding their development. In particular, we emphasise that new evidence, derived using the developing murine heart, points to the arterial stems growing out from the adjacent sinuses of the aortic root, rather than the arteries growing in, as is currently assumed. As we show, the concept of outgrowth provides an excellent explanation for several of the abnormal arrangements encountered in the clinical setting. Before summarising these abnormal features, we draw attention to the need to describe the heart in an attitudinally appropriate manner, following the basic rule of human anatomy, rather than describing the cardiac components with the heart in the "Valentine" orientation. We then show how the major abnormalities involving the coronary arteries in humans can be summarised in terms of abnormal origin from the pulmonary circulation, abnormal aortic origin, or fistulous communications between the coronary arteries and the cardiac cavities. In the case of abnormal aortic origin, we highlight those malformations known to be associated with sudden cardiac death.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Spicer DE, Henderson DJ, Chaudhry B, Mohun TJ, Anderson RH

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Cardiology in the Young

Year: 2015

Volume: 25

Issue: 8

Pages: 1493-1503

Print publication date: 01/12/2015

Online publication date: 15/12/2015

Acceptance date: 01/07/2015

ISSN (print): 1047-9511

ISSN (electronic): 1467-1107

Publisher: Cambridge University Press


DOI: 10.1017/S1047951115001390


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