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Why do we break one of the first rules of anatomy when describing the components of the heart?

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Bob Anderson


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© 2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. A rule of human anatomy is that all structures within the body should be described relative to the so-called “anatomical position.” Along with those describing structures such as the skull and liver, those accounting for the components of the heart consistently break this rule, describing the organ as if removed from the body and positioned on its apex, the so-called “Valentine position.” Although potentially appropriate to some animal species, this approach produces problems when used in human anatomy, even if the right and left ventricles are only viewed in truly right-sided and left-sided positions when assessed in the Valentine fashion. The names of the ventricles, of course, are never going to change. This is not necessarily the case with other cardiac components. Consider the artery that extends between the ventricles on their diaphragmatic surface. Blockage produces inferior myocardial infarction, which is to be expected, since the vessel is located in inferior and interventricular position. It is incorrect to describe the artery as being posterior and descending. Such infelicities are now the more obvious with the advent of techniques that, in clinical cardiology, show the components of the heart as it lies within the chest. In this review, we have assessed the frequency of use of the Valentine approach in popular textbooks used by students of human anatomy. We show that, using the conduction tissues as a model, this system also being incorrectly described in the majority of the textbooks, the situation can be improved by use of attitudinally appropriate description. Clin. Anat., 2019. © 2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Publication metadata

Author(s): De Almeida MC, Spicer DE, Anderson RH

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Clinical Anatomy

Year: 2019

Volume: 32

Issue: 4

Pages: 585-596

Print publication date: 10/04/2019

Online publication date: 20/02/2019

Acceptance date: 18/02/2019

ISSN (print): 0897-3806

ISSN (electronic): 1098-2353

Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Inc.


DOI: 10.1002/ca.23356