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The morphological definition of atrial chambers, and the determination of atrial laterality, are based on analysis of the structure of the atrial appendages. The systemic and pulmonary venous connections to the heart, nonetheless, are important in the management of patients having isomeric appendages. In this study, therefore, we analysed the morphology of the postero-superior walls of the atrial chambers so as to provide evidence concerning the morphogenetic background of those hearts, and to improve operative management.
We reviewed 15 autopsied specimens with isomeric right appendages, and 10 with isomeric left appendages, paying particular attention to the morphology of the systemic and pulmonary venous connections. The postero-superior walls of the atrial chambers can be made up of the atrial body, the systemic venous components, or the pulmonary venous component. We analysed the contributions made by each of these components.
The postero-superior walls of the atrial chambers were markedly variable, but could be grouped into five patterns. Bilaterally well-developed systemic venous components and absence of the pulmonary venous component within the hypoplastic atrial body were present in 9 hearts with extracardiac pulmonary venous connections in the setting of right isomerism. Bilaterally well-developed systemic venous components, and a hypoplastic pulmonary venous component within the hypoplastic atrial body, were present in 5 hearts with intracardiac pulmonary venous connections in right isomerism. Bilaterally well-developed systemic venous components, and a hypoplastic pulmonary venous component within the sizable atrial body, were present in 1 heart with an intracardiac pulmonary venous connection in right isomerism. A well-developed pulmonary venous component within the atrial body, and hypoplasia of one systemic venous component, were present in 7 hearts with left isomerism. A well-developed pulmonary venous component within the atrial body, and hypoplasia of bilateral systemic venous components, were present in 3 hearts with left isomerism.
The postero-superior walls of the atrial chambers in hearts with isomeric atrial appendages can be analysed on the basis of a compound structure made of bilateral systemic venous components, a central pulmonary venous component, and the body of the atrium. Hearts with isomeric right appendages have absence or hypoplasia of the pulmonary venous component, while hearts with isomeric left appendages have hypoplastic systemic venous components.
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