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Topological changes of the human autonomic cardiac nervous system in individuals with a retroesophageal right subclavian artery: two case reports and a brief review

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Abstract

The topological changes of the human autonomic cardiac nervous system in two cadavers with a retroesophageal right subclavian artery (Rersa) were compared with the normal autonomic cardiac nervous system. The following new results were obtained in addition to the conventional deficient finding of the right recurrent laryngeal nerve. (1) Right superior cardiac nerves arising from the superior cervical ganglion were consistently observed in both cadavers, in addition to the right thoracic cardiac nerves along the Rersa. (2) A segmental accompanying tendency of the right cardiac nerves was recognized: the cardiac nerves arising from the sympathetic trunk cranial to the middle cervical ganglia ran along with the right common carotid artery, whereas the cardiac nerves arising from the sympathetic trunk caudal to the vertebral ganglion ran along the Rersa. (3) The right thoracic cardiac nerves, which have never been observed to accompany the normal right subclavian artery, ran along the proximal part of the Rersa. According to previous reports of individuals with the Rersa, a thick right thoracic cardiac nerve is commonly observed instead of a right superior cardiac nerve. However, all the cardiac nerves were recognized in both the individuals described in the present report. Therefore, we strongly disagree with the previous idea that the origin of the right cardiac nerves from the sympathetic trunk and ganglia is shifted caudally in individuals with the Rersa. The topological changes of the autonomic cardiac nervous system in two cases of Rersa also reflected spatial changes of great arteries.

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Acknowledgements

This study was supported by grants from the Japan Foundation of Cardiovascular Research 2003 and Scientific Research from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports Science and Technology (no. 16790804).

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Correspondence to Tomokazu Kawashima.

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Kawashima, T., Sasaki, H. Topological changes of the human autonomic cardiac nervous system in individuals with a retroesophageal right subclavian artery: two case reports and a brief review. Anat Embryol 210, 327–334 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00429-005-0052-2

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Key words

  • Retroesophageal right subclavian artery
  • Cardiac nerve
  • Autonomic nerve
  • Macroscopic anatomy