Embryology of the Heart

  • Michael T. AshworthEmail author


The heart is a modified blood vessel, developing from a straight tube that undergoes a complex series of changes. These begin with folding and progress via differential outgrowth of the chambers, remodeling of the chamber connections and the formation of septa—to separate the systemic and pulmonary blood flow. This process occurs while the heart provides the blood flow to the developing embryo, and builds the capacity to adapt to extra-uterine life. Many congenital defects of the heart have their origin early in this development and can be understood in terms of failure of the normal developmental processes. The illustrations of congenital defects show the consequences.


Heart tube Looping Septation Ductus venosus Foramen ovale Arterial duct Postnatal adaptation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HistopathologyGreat Ormond Street Hospital for ChildrenLondonUK

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