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The aorta ( ) is the main and largest
artery An artery (plural arteries) () is a blood vessel The blood vessels are the components of the circulatory system The circulatory system, also called the cardiovascular system or the vascular system, is an organ system that permits bloo ...

artery
in the
human body The human body is the structure of a human being Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of ...

human body
, originating from the
left ventricle A ventricle is one of two large chambers toward the bottom of the heart The heart is a muscle, muscular Organ (anatomy), organ in most animals, which pumps blood through the blood vessels of the circulatory system. The pumped blood carries ...
of the
heart The heart is a cardiac muscle, muscular Organ (biology), organ in most animals, which pumps blood through the blood vessels of the circulatory system. The pumped blood carries oxygen and nutrients to the body, while carrying metabolic waste ...

heart
and extending down to the
abdomen The abdomen (colloquially called the belly, tummy, midriff or stomach) is the part of the body between the thorax (chest) and pelvis, in humans and in other vertebrates. The abdomen is the front part of the abdominal segment of the Trunk (anatomy) ...

abdomen
, where it
splits A split (commonly referred to as splits or the splits) is a physical position in which the legs are in line with each other and extended in opposite directions. Splits are commonly performed in various athletic activities, including dance ...
into two smaller arteries (the
common iliac arteries
common iliac arteries
). The aorta distributes oxygenated blood to all parts of the body through the
systemic circulation The circulatory system, also called the cardiovascular system or the vascular system, is an organ system An organ system is a group of organs An organ is a group of tissues with similar functions. Plant life and animal life rely on many o ...
.


Structure


Sections

In anatomical sources, the aorta is usually divided into sections. One way of classifying a part of the aorta is by anatomical compartment, where the
thoracic aorta The descending thoracic aorta is a part of the aorta The aorta ( ) is the main and largest artery An artery (plural arteries) () is a blood vessel that takes blood away from the heart to one or more parts of the body (tissues, lungs, brain ...

thoracic aorta
(or thoracic portion of the aorta) runs from the
heart The heart is a cardiac muscle, muscular Organ (biology), organ in most animals, which pumps blood through the blood vessels of the circulatory system. The pumped blood carries oxygen and nutrients to the body, while carrying metabolic waste ...

heart
to the
diaphragm Diaphragm may refer to: * Diaphragm (anatomy) or thoracic diaphragm, a thin sheet of muscle between the thorax and the abdomen * Diaphragm (optics), a stop in the light path of a lens, having an aperture that regulates the amount of light that pass ...
. The aorta then continues downward as the
abdominal aorta The abdominal aorta is the largest artery in the abdominal cavity. As part of the aorta, it is a direct continuation of the descending aorta (of the thorax). Structure The abdominal aorta begins at the level of the diaphragm (anatomy), diaphragm, ...

abdominal aorta
(or abdominal portion of the aorta) from the diaphragm to the aortic bifurcation. Another system divides the aorta with respect to its course and the direction of blood flow. In this system, the aorta starts as the
ascending aorta The ascending aorta (AAo) is a portion of the aorta commencing at the upper part of the base of the left ventricle, on a level with the lower border of the third costal cartilage behind the left half of the sternum. Structure It passes obli ...

ascending aorta
, travels superiorly from the heart, and then makes a
hairpin turn A hairpin, after which the feature is named A hairpin turn (also hairpin bend or hairpin corner) is a bend in a road with a very acute inner angle, making it necessary for an oncoming vehicle to turn about 180° to continue on the road. It is na ...
known as the
aortic arch The aortic arch, arch of the aorta, or transverse aortic arch () is the part of the aorta The aorta ( ) is the main and largest in the , originating from the of the and extending down to the , where it into two smaller arteries (the ). T ...

aortic arch
. Following the aortic arch, the aorta then travels inferiorly as the descending aorta. The descending aorta has two parts. The aorta begins to descend in the thoracic cavity and is consequently known as the thoracic aorta. After the aorta passes through the
diaphragm Diaphragm may refer to: * Diaphragm (anatomy) or thoracic diaphragm, a thin sheet of muscle between the thorax and the abdomen * Diaphragm (optics), a stop in the light path of a lens, having an aperture that regulates the amount of light that pass ...
, it is known as the abdominal aorta. The aorta ends by dividing into two major blood vessels, the
common iliac arteries
common iliac arteries
and a smaller midline vessel, the
median sacral artery The median sacral artery (or middle sacral artery) is a small artery that arises posterior to the abdominal aorta and superior to its bifurcation. Structure The median sacral artery arises from the abdominal aorta at the level of the bottom quart ...

median sacral artery
.


Ascending aorta

The ascending aorta begins at the opening of the
aortic valve The aortic valve is a in the between the and the . It is one of the two of the heart, the other being the . The heart has four valves; the other two are the and the valves. The aortic valve normally has three cusps or leaflets, although in 1 ...

aortic valve
in the left ventricle of the heart. It runs through a common
pericardial sheath
pericardial sheath
with the
pulmonary trunk A pulmonary artery is an artery An artery (plural arteries) () is a blood vessel The blood vessels are the components of the circulatory system that transport blood throughout the human body. These vessels transport blood cells, nutrients, ...
. These two blood vessels twist around each other, causing the aorta to start out posterior to the pulmonary trunk, but end by twisting to its right and
anterior Standard anatomical terms of location deal unambiguously with the anatomy Anatomy (Greek ''anatomē'', 'dissection') is the branch of biology concerned with the study of the structure of organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient ...
side. The transition from ascending aorta to aortic arch is at the pericardial reflection on the aorta. At the root of the ascending aorta, the lumen has three small pockets between the cusps of the
aortic valve The aortic valve is a in the between the and the . It is one of the two of the heart, the other being the . The heart has four valves; the other two are the and the valves. The aortic valve normally has three cusps or leaflets, although in 1 ...

aortic valve
and the wall of the aorta, which are called the
aortic sinus An aortic sinus, also known as a sinus of Valsalva, is one of the anatomic dilations of the ascending aorta, which occurs just above the aortic valve. These widenings are between the wall of the aorta and each of the three cusps of the aortic valve ...
es or the sinuses of Valsalva. The left aortic sinus contains the origin of the
left coronary artery The left coronary artery (abbreviated LCA) is a coronary artery that arises from the aorta above the left cusp of the aortic valve, and feeds blood to the left side of the heart muscle. It is also known as the left main coronary artery (abbrevia ...
and the right aortic sinus likewise gives rise to the
right coronary artery In the coronary circulation, blood supply of the heart, the right coronary artery (RCA) is an artery originating above the right cusp of the aortic valve, at the Aortic sinus, right aortic sinus in the heart. It travels down the right coronary sul ...
. Together, these two arteries supply the heart. The posterior aortic sinus does not give rise to a coronary artery. For this reason the left, right and posterior aortic sinuses are also called left-coronary, right-coronary and non-coronary sinuses.


Aortic arch

The
aortic arch The aortic arch, arch of the aorta, or transverse aortic arch () is the part of the aorta The aorta ( ) is the main and largest in the , originating from the of the and extending down to the , where it into two smaller arteries (the ). T ...

aortic arch
loops over the left
pulmonary artery A pulmonary artery is an artery An artery (plural arteries) () is a blood vessel that takes blood away from the heart to one or more parts of the body (tissues, lungs, brain etc.). Most arteries carry oxygenated blood; the two exceptions are t ...

pulmonary artery
and the bifurcation of the
pulmonary trunk A pulmonary artery is an artery An artery (plural arteries) () is a blood vessel The blood vessels are the components of the circulatory system that transport blood throughout the human body. These vessels transport blood cells, nutrients, ...
, to which it remains connected by the
ligamentum arteriosum The ligamentum arteriosum ( la, arterial ligament) is a small ligament A ligament is the Connective tissue#Types, fibrous connective tissue that connects bones to other bones. It is also known as ''articular ligament'', ''articular larua'', ''fibro ...
, a remnant of the
fetal circulation In animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the Kingdom (biology), biological kingdom Animalia. With few exceptions, animals Heterotroph, consume organic material, Cellular respiration#Aerobic r ...

fetal circulation
that is obliterated a few days after birth. In addition to these blood vessels, the aortic arch crosses the left main bronchus. Between the aortic arch and the pulmonary trunk is a network of autonomic nerve fibers, the
cardiac plexus The cardiac plexus is a plexus of nerves situated at the base of the heart The heart is a muscle, muscular Organ (anatomy), organ in most animals, which pumps blood through the blood vessels of the circulatory system. The pumped blood carri ...
or ''aortic plexus''. The left
vagus nerve The vagus nerve, historically cited as the pneumogastric nerve, is the tenth cranial nerve Cranial nerves are the nerve A nerve is an enclosed, cable-like bundle of nerve fibers called axon An axon (from Greek ἄξων ''áxōn'', axi ...
, which passes
anterior Standard anatomical terms of location deal unambiguously with the anatomy Anatomy (Greek ''anatomē'', 'dissection') is the branch of biology concerned with the study of the structure of organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient ...
to the aortic arch, gives off a major branch, the
recurrent laryngeal nerve The recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) is a branch of the vagus nerve (cranial nerve X) that supplies all the Larynx#Intrinsic, intrinsic muscles of the larynx, with the exception of the cricothyroid muscles. There are two recurrent laryngeal nerv ...

recurrent laryngeal nerve
, which loops under the aortic arch just lateral to the ligamentum arteriosum. It then runs back to the neck. The aortic arch has three major branches: from
proximal Standard anatomical terms of location deal unambiguously with the anatomy of animals, including humans. Terms used generally derive from Latin or Greek language, Greek roots and used to describe something in its standard anatomical position. This ...
to
distal Standard anatomical terms of location deal unambiguously with the anatomy of animals, including humans. Terms used generally derive from Latin or Greek language, Greek roots and used to describe something in its standard anatomical position. This ...
, they are the
brachiocephalic trunk The brachiocephalic artery (or brachiocephalic trunk or innominate artery) is an artery An artery (plural arteries) () is a blood vessel The blood vessels are the components of the circulatory system The circulatory system, also cal ...
, the
left common carotid artery In anatomy, the left and right common carotid arteries (carotids) (Entry "carotid"
in
, and the left
subclavian artery In human anatomy The human body is the structure of a human being. It is composed of many different types of cells that together create tissues and subsequently organ systems. They ensure homeostasis In biology Biology is the natura ...
. The brachiocephalic trunk supplies the right side of the head and neck as well as the right arm and
chest wall The thoracic wall or chest wall is the boundary of the thoracic cavity. Structure The bone, bony human skeleton, skeletal part of the thoracic wall is the rib cage, and the rest is made up of muscle, skin, and fasciae. The chest wall has 10 laye ...
, while the latter two together supply the left side of the same regions. The aortic arch ends, and the descending aorta begins at the level of the
intervertebral disc An intervertebral disc (or intervertebral fibrocartilage) lies between adjacent vertebrae in the vertebral column The vertebral column, also known as the backbone or spine, is part of the axial skeleton. The vertebral column is the defining ...
between the fourth and fifth
thoracic vertebrae In vertebrates Vertebrates () comprise all species of animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the Kingdom (biology), biological kingdom Animalia. With few exceptions, animals Heterotroph, c ...

thoracic vertebrae
.


Thoracic aorta

The thoracic descending aorta gives rise to the intercostal and subcostal arteries, as well as to the superior and inferior left bronchial arteries and variable branches to the
esophagus The esophagus (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Currently, American E ...

esophagus
,
mediastinum The mediastinum (from ) is the central compartment of the thoracic cavity surrounded by loose connective tissue, as an undelineated region that contains a group of structures within the thorax The thorax or chest is a part of the anatomy of hu ...

mediastinum
, and
pericardium The pericardium, also called pericardial sac, is a double-walled sac containing the heart The heart is a cardiac muscle, muscular Organ (biology), organ in most animals, which pumps blood through the blood vessels of the circulatory syst ...

pericardium
. Its lowest pair of branches are the superior phrenic arteries, which supply the diaphragm, and the subcostal arteries for the twelfth rib.


Abdominal aorta

The abdominal aorta begins at the aortic hiatus of the diaphragm at the level of the twelfth thoracic vertebra. It gives rise to
lumbar In tetrapod anatomy, lumbar is an adjective that means ''of or pertaining to the abdominal segment of the torso, between the diaphragm (anatomy), diaphragm and the sacrum.'' The lumbar region is sometimes referred to as the lower vertebral column ...
and musculophrenic arteries,
renal The kidneys are two reddish-brown bean-shaped organs An organ is a group of tissues with similar functions. Plant life and animal life rely on many organs that co-exist in organ systems. A given organ's tissues can be broadly categorized ...
and
middle suprarenal arteries The middle suprarenal artery (middle capsular artery) is a paired artery in the abdomen. It is a branch of the aorta. It supplies the adrenal gland. Structure The middle suprarenal artery arises from the aorta. This is opposite the superior mes ...
, and visceral arteries (the
celiac trunk The celiac () artery (also spelled ''coeliac''), also known as the celiac trunk or truncus coeliacus, is the first major branch of the abdominal aorta The abdominal aorta is the largest artery in the abdominal cavity. As part of the aorta, it i ...
, the
superior mesenteric artery In human anatomy The human body is the structure of a human being Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and ...
and the
inferior mesenteric artery In human anatomy The human body is the structure of a human being Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a ...
). It ends in a bifurcation into the . At the point of the bifurcation, there also springs a smaller branch, the
median sacral artery The median sacral artery (or middle sacral artery) is a small artery that arises posterior to the abdominal aorta and superior to its bifurcation. Structure The median sacral artery arises from the abdominal aorta at the level of the bottom quart ...

median sacral artery
.


Development

The ascending aorta develops from the outflow tract, which initially starts as a single tube connecting the heart with the
aortic arches The aortic arches or pharyngeal arch arteries (previously referred to as branchial arches in human embryos) are a series of six paired embryological vascular structures which give rise to the great arteries An artery (plural arteries) () is ...
(which will form the great arteries) in early development but is then separated into the aorta and the pulmonary trunk. The
aortic arches The aortic arches or pharyngeal arch arteries (previously referred to as branchial arches in human embryos) are a series of six paired embryological vascular structures which give rise to the great arteries An artery (plural arteries) () is ...
start as five pairs of symmetrical arteries connecting the heart with the
dorsal aorta The dorsal aortae are paired (left and right) embryological vessels which progress to form the descending aorta The descending aorta is part of the aorta, the largest artery in the Human body, body. The descending aorta begins at the aortic arch ...
, and then undergo a significant remodelling to form the final asymmetrical structure of the
great arteriesThe great arteries are the primary arteries that carry blood away from the heart The heart is a muscle, muscular Organ (anatomy), organ in most animals, which pumps blood through the blood vessels of the circulatory system. The pumped blood ...
, with the 3rd pair of arteries contributing to the , the right 4th forming the base and middle part of the right
subclavian artery In human anatomy The human body is the structure of a human being. It is composed of many different types of cells that together create tissues and subsequently organ systems. They ensure homeostasis In biology Biology is the natura ...
and the left 4th being the central part of the
aortic arch The aortic arch, arch of the aorta, or transverse aortic arch () is the part of the aorta The aorta ( ) is the main and largest in the , originating from the of the and extending down to the , where it into two smaller arteries (the ). T ...

aortic arch
. The smooth muscle of the great arteries and the population of cells that form the aorticopulmonary septum that separates the aorta and pulmonary artery is derived from cardiac neural crest. This contribution of the neural crest to the great artery smooth muscle is unusual as most smooth muscle is derived from
mesoderm The mesoderm is the middle layer of the three germ layer A germ layer is a primary layer of cell (biology), cells that forms during embryonic development. The three germ layers in vertebrates are particularly pronounced; however, all eumetazoa ...

mesoderm
. In fact the smooth muscle within the abdominal aorta is derived from mesoderm, and the coronary arteries, which arise just above the
semilunar valves A heart valve is a one-way valve check valve Image:Check Valve.svg, 140px, Check valve symbol on piping and instrumentation diagrams. The arrow shows the flow direction. A check valve, non-return valve, reflux valve, retention valve, foot valv ...
, possess smooth muscle of mesodermal origin. A failure of the aorticopulmonary septum to divide the great vessels results in
persistent truncus arteriosus Persistent truncus arteriosus (PTA), often referred to simply as Truncus Arteriosus, is a rare form of congenital heart disease A congenital heart defect (CHD), also known as a congenital heart anomaly and congenital heart disease, is a defect i ...
.


Microanatomy

The aorta is an
elastic artery An elastic artery (conducting artery or conduit artery) is an artery An artery (plural arteries) () is a blood vessel The blood vessels are the components of the circulatory system The circulatory system, also called the cardiovascu ...
, and as such is quite distensible. The aorta consists of a heterogeneous mixture of
smooth muscle Smooth muscle is an involuntary non-striated muscle Striated muscle tissue is a muscle tissue Muscle tissue is a soft tissue that composes muscles in animal bodies, and gives rise to muscles' ability to contract. It is also referred to as myo ...

smooth muscle
, nerves, intimal cells, endothelial cells, fibroblast-like cells, and a complex extracellular matrix. The vascular wall consists of several layers known as the
tunica externa The tunica externa (New Latin New Latin (also called Neo-Latin or modern Latin) is the revival of Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spok ...
,
tunica media The tunica media (New Latin "middle coat"), or media for short, is the middle tunica (biology), tunica (layer) of an artery or vein. It lies between the tunica intima on the inside and the tunica externa on the outside. Artery Tunica media is mad ...
, and
tunica intima The tunica intima (New Latin New Latin (also called Neo-Latin or modern Latin) is the revival of Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spok ...
. The thickness of the aorta requires an extensive network of tiny blood vessels called
vasa vasorum Vasa may refer to: Places * Vaşa, Azerbaijan * Vasa County, a historic county in modern-day Finland * Vaasa or Vasa, Finland * Vasa, Rajasthan, a village in Sirohi District, Rajasthan, India * Vasa, Palghar, a village in Maharashtra, India * Väs ...

vasa vasorum
, which feed the tunica externa and tunica media outer layers of the aorta. The aortic arch contains
baroreceptorBaroreceptors (or archaically, pressoreceptors) are sensors located in the carotid sinus (at the bifurcation of external and internal carotids) and in the aortic arch. They sense the blood pressure and relay the information to the brain, so that a ...
s and
chemoreceptor A chemoreceptor, also known as chemosensor, is a specialized sensory receptor Sensory neurons, also known as afferent neurons, are neuron A neuron or nerve cell is an membrane potential#Cell excitability, electrically excitable cell (biology) ...
s that relay information concerning blood pressure and blood pH and carbon dioxide levels to the
medulla oblongata The medulla oblongata or simply medulla is a long stem-like structure which makes up the lower part of the brainstem The brainstem (or brain stem) is the posterior stalk-like part of the brain A brain is an organ Organ may refer to: ...

medulla oblongata
of the brain. This information is processed by the brain and the
autonomic nervous system The autonomic nervous system (ANS), formerly the vegetative nervous system, is a division of the peripheral nervous system that supplies smooth muscle and glands, and thus influences the function of viscera, internal organs. The autonomic nervous ...

autonomic nervous system
mediates the homeostatic responses. Within the tunica media, smooth muscle and the extracellular matrix are quantitatively the largest components of the aortic vascular wall. The fundamental unit of the aorta is the elastic lamella, which consists of smooth muscle and elastic matrix. The medial layer of the aorta consist of concentric musculoelastic layers (the elastic lamella) in mammals. The smooth muscle component does not dramatically alter the diameter of the aorta but rather serves to increase the stiffness and viscoelasticity of the aortic wall when activated. The elastic matrix dominates the biomechanical properties of the aorta. The elastic matrix forms lamellae, consisting of
elastic fiber Elastic fibers (or yellow fibers) are an essential component of the extracellular matrix In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemi ...
s,
collagen Collagen () is the main structural protein Proteins are large biomolecule , showing alpha helices, represented by ribbons. This poten was the first to have its suckture solved by X-ray crystallography by Max Perutz and Sir John Cowder ...

collagen
s (predominately type III),
proteoglycan Proteoglycans are protein Proteins are large biomolecule , showing alpha helices, represented by ribbons. This poten was the first to have its suckture solved by X-ray crystallography by Max Perutz and Sir John Cowdery Kendrew in 1958 ...
s, and glycoaminoglycans.


Variation

Variations may occur in the location of the aorta, and the way in which arteries branch off the aorta. The aorta, normally on the left side of the body, may be found on the right in
dextrocardia Dextrocardiaa disease (from Latin ''dexter'', meaning "right," and Greek ''kardia'', meaning "heart") is a rare congenital condition in which the apex of the heart The heart is a muscle, muscular Organ (anatomy), organ in most animals, wh ...

dextrocardia
, in which the heart is found on the right, or
situs inversus Situs inversus (also called situs transversus or oppositus) is a congenital condition in which the major visceral organs are reversed or mirrored from their normal positions. The normal arrangement of internal organs is known as situs solitus. ...
, in which the location of all organs are flipped. Variations in the branching of individual arteries may also occur. For example, the left
vertebral artery The vertebral arteries are major arteries of the neck. Typically, the vertebral arteries originate from the subclavian arteries. Each vessel courses superiorly along each side of the neck, merging within the skull to form the single, midline b ...

vertebral artery
may arise from the aorta, instead of the left
common carotid artery In anatomy, the left and right common carotid arteries (carotids) (Entry "carotid"
in
. In
patent ductus arteriosus ''Patent ductus arteriosus'' (PDA) is a medical condition in which the ''ductus arteriosus The ductus arteriosus, also called the ductus Botalli, named after the Italian physiologist Leonardo Botallo, is a blood vessel in the developing fetus c ...

patent ductus arteriosus
, a congenital disorder, the fetal ductus arteriosis fails to close, leaving an open vessel connecting the
pulmonary artery A pulmonary artery is an artery An artery (plural arteries) () is a blood vessel that takes blood away from the heart to one or more parts of the body (tissues, lungs, brain etc.). Most arteries carry oxygenated blood; the two exceptions are t ...

pulmonary artery
to the proximal
descending aorta The descending aorta is part of the aorta The aorta ( ) is the main and largest artery An artery (plural arteries) () is a blood vessel The blood vessels are the components of the circulatory system The circulatory system, also ...
.MedlinePlus > Patent ductus arteriosus
Update Date: 21 December 2009


Function

The aorta supplies all of the systemic circulation, which means that the entire body, except for the respiratory zone of the lung, receives its blood from the aorta. Broadly speaking, branches from the ascending aorta supply the heart; branches from the aortic arch supply the head, neck, and arms; branches from the thoracic descending aorta supply the chest (excluding the heart and the respiratory zone of the lung); and branches from the abdominal aorta supply the
abdomen The abdomen (colloquially called the belly, tummy, midriff or stomach) is the part of the body between the thorax (chest) and pelvis, in humans and in other vertebrates. The abdomen is the front part of the abdominal segment of the Trunk (anatomy) ...

abdomen
. The pelvis and legs get their blood from the common iliac arteries.


Blood flow and velocity

The pulsatile nature of blood flow creates a pulse wave that is propagated down the
arterial tree In anatomy, arterial tree is used to refer to all arteries and/or the branching pattern of the arteries. This article regards the human arterial tree. Starting from the aorta: the following are the parts Ascending aorta It is a portion of the ao ...
, and at bifurcations reflected waves rebound to return to semilunar valves and the origin of the aorta. These return waves create the dicrotic notch displayed in the aortic pressure curve during the
cardiac cycle The cardiac cycle is the performance of the human heart The heart is a cardiac muscle, muscular Organ (biology), organ in most animals, which pumps blood through the blood vessels of the circulatory system. The pumped blood carries oxy ...
as these reflected waves push on the aortic semilunar valve. With age, the aorta stiffens such that the pulse wave is propagated faster and reflected waves return to the heart faster before the semilunar valve closes, which raises the blood pressure. The stiffness of the aorta is associated with a number of diseases and pathologies, and noninvasive measures of the pulse wave
velocity The velocity of an object is the rate of change of its position with respect to a frame of reference In physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical scie ...
are an independent indicator of
hypertension Hypertension (HTN or HT), also known as high blood pressure (HBP), is a Chronic condition, long-term Disease, medical condition in which the blood pressure in the artery, arteries is persistently elevated. High blood pressure usually does not ...

hypertension
. Measuring the pulse wave velocity (invasively and non-invasively) is a means of determining
arterial stiffness Arterial stiffness occurs as a consequence of biological aging and arteriosclerosis. Inflammation plays a major role in arteriosclerosis development, and consequently it is a major contributor in large arteries stiffening. Increased arterial stiff ...
. Maximum aortic velocity may be noted as Vmax or less commonly as AoVmax.
Mean arterial pressure In medicine, the mean arterial pressure (MAP) is an average blood pressure in an individual during a single cardiac cycle. Calculation The Systemic Vascular Resistance (SVR), denoted R is represented mathematically by the formula :R = \Delta P/ ...

Mean arterial pressure
(MAP) is highest in the aorta, and the MAP decreases across the circulation from aorta to arteries to arterioles to capillaries to veins back to atrium. The difference between aortic and right atrial pressure accounts for blood flow in the circulation. When the left ventricle contracts to force blood into the aorta, the aorta expands. This stretching gives the potential energy that will help maintain blood pressure during
diastole Diastole ( ) is the part of the cardiac cycle and adjacent deflections. Re the cardiac cycle, ''atrial systole'' begins at the P wave; ''ventricular systole'' begins at the Q deflection of the QRS complex. The cardiac cycle is the performance ...
, as during this time the aorta contracts passively. This
Windkessel effect Windkessel effect is a term used in medicine Medicine is the Art (skill), art, science, and Praxis (process) , practice of caring for a patient and managing the diagnosis, prognosis, Preventive medicine, prevention, therapy, treatment or Palliat ...

Windkessel effect
of the great elastic arteries has important biomechanical implications. The elastic recoil helps conserve the energy from the pumping heart and smooth out the pulsatile nature created by the heart. Aortic pressure is highest at the aorta and becomes less pulsatile and lower pressure as blood vessels divide into arteries, arterioles, and capillaries such that flow is slow and smooth for gases and nutrient exchange.


Clinical significance

*
Aortic aneurysm An aortic aneurysm is an enlargement (dilatation) of the aorta to greater than 1.5 times normal size. They usually cause no symptoms except when ruptured. Occasionally, there may be abdominal, back, or leg pain. They are most commonly located ...

Aortic aneurysm
– mycotic, bacterial (e.g.
syphilis Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), also referred to as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and the older term venereal disease, are infection An infection is the invasion of an orga ...
), senile, genetic, associated with
valvular heart disease Valvular heart disease is any cardiovascular disease Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a class of diseases that involve the heart The heart is a cardiac muscle, muscular Organ (biology), organ in most animals, which pumps blood throug ...
*
Aortic coarctation Coarctation of the aorta (CoA or CoAo), also called aortic narrowing, is a congenital condition whereby the aorta is narrow, usually in the area where the ductus arteriosus (ligamentum arteriosum after regression) inserts. The word ''coarctation'' ...
– pre- ductal, post-ductal *
Aortic dissection Aortic dissection (AD) occurs when an injury to the innermost layer of the aorta The aorta ( ) is the main and largest artery An artery (plural arteries) () is a blood vessel The blood vessels are the components of the circula ...
*
Aortic stenosis Aortic stenosis (AS or AoS) is the narrowing of the exit of the left ventricle A ventricle is one of two large chambers toward the bottom of the heart The heart is a muscle, muscular Organ (anatomy), organ in most animals, which pumps ...

Aortic stenosis
*
Aortitis Aortitis is the inflammation of the aortic wall. The disorder is potentially life-threatening and rare. It is reported that there are only 1–3 new cases of aortitis per year per million people in the United States and Europe. Aortitis is most com ...
, inflammation of the aorta that can be seen in trauma, infections, and autoimmune disease *
Atherosclerosis Atherosclerosis is a disease in which the wall of the artery An artery (plural arteries) () is a blood vessel The blood vessels are the components of the circulatory system that transport blood throughout the human body. These vessels tr ...

Atherosclerosis
* Ehlers–Danlos syndrome *
Marfan syndrome Marfan syndrome (MFS) is a rare multi-systemic genetic disorder A genetic disorder is a health problem caused by one or more abnormalities in the genome In the fields of molecular biology Molecular biology is the branch of bio ...
*
Trauma Trauma most often refers to: *Major trauma, in physical medicine, severe physical injury caused by an external source *Psychological trauma, a type of damage to the psyche that occurs as a result of a severely distressing event *Traumatic injur ...
, such as
traumatic aortic rupture Traumatic aortic rupture, also called traumatic aortic disruption or transection, is a condition in which the aorta, the largest artery in the body, is torn or ruptured as a result of trauma to the body. The condition is frequently fatal due to the ...
, most often thoracic and distal to the left subclavian artery and often quickly fatal *
Transposition of the great vessels Transposition of the great vessels (TGV) is a group of congenital heart defects involving an abnormal spatial arrangement of any of the great vessels: superior and/or inferior venae cavae, pulmonary artery A pulmonary artery is an artery ...
, see also
dextro-Transposition of the great arteries dextro-Transposition of the great arteries (d-Transposition of the great arteries, dextro-TGA, or d-TGA), is a potentially life-threatening birth defect in the large arteries of the heart. The primary arteries (the aorta and the pulmonary artery) ...
and
levo-Transposition of the great arteries Levo-Transposition of the great arteries is an acyanotic heart defect, acyanotic congenital heart defect in which the primary arteries (the aorta and the pulmonary artery) are transposed, with the aorta anterior and to the left of the pulmonary art ...


Other animals

All
amniote Amniotes (from Greek ἀμνίον ''amnion'', "membrane surrounding the fetus", earlier "bowl in which the blood of sacrificed animals was caught", from ἀμνός ''amnos'', "lamb") are a clade A clade (), also known as a monophyletic ...
s have a broadly similar arrangement to that of humans, albeit with a number of individual variations. In
fish Fish are aquatic Aquatic means relating to water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an inorganic, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and nearly colorless chemical substance, which is the main constituent of Earth's hydrosphere and the ...

fish
, however, there are two separate vessels referred to as aortas. The ventral aorta carries de-oxygenated blood from the heart to the
gill A gill () is a respiratory organ that many aquatic Aquatic means relating to water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an inorganic, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and nearly colorless chemical substance, which is the main constituent ...
s; part of this vessel forms the ascending aorta in tetrapods (the remainder forms the
pulmonary artery A pulmonary artery is an artery An artery (plural arteries) () is a blood vessel that takes blood away from the heart to one or more parts of the body (tissues, lungs, brain etc.). Most arteries carry oxygenated blood; the two exceptions are t ...

pulmonary artery
). A second, dorsal aorta carries oxygenated blood from the gills to the rest of the body and is homologous with the descending aorta of tetrapods. The two aortas are connected by a number of vessels, one passing through each of the gills.
Amphibian Amphibians are ectothermic, tetrapod vertebrates of the Class (biology), class Amphibia. All living amphibians belong to the group Lissamphibia. They inhabit a wide variety of habitats, with most species living within terrestrial animal, ter ...
s also retain the fifth connecting vessel, so that the aorta has two parallel arches.


History

The word 'Aorta' stems from the
Late Latin Late Latin ( la, Latinitas serior) is the scholarly name for the written Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, kn ...
' from
Classical Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek (modern , romanized: ''Elliniká'', Ancient Greek, ancient , ''Hellēnikḗ'') is an independent branch of the Indo-European languages, Indo-European family of languages, nati ...
''aortē'' (), from ''aeirō'', "I lift, raise" () This term was first applied by
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questio ...

Aristotle
when describing the aorta and describes accurately how it seems to be 'suspended' above the heart. The function of the aorta is documented in the
Talmud The Talmud (; he, תַּלְמוּד ''Tálmūḏ'') is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law (''halakha'') and Jewish theology. Until the advent of modernity, in nearly all Jewish communities, the ...

Talmud
, where it is noted as one of three major vessels entering or leaving the heart, and where perforation is linked to death.


References


External links

* * {{Authority control Arteries of the thorax Arteries of the abdomen Cardiac anatomy