Synonym: Main artery
As the central vessel of the circulatory system, the aorta leaves the left heart, from which it separated by the aortic valve. The aorta then extends above the trachea and shifts dorsally and caudally. In the thoracic region, it provides the coronary arteries, the brachiocephalic trunk, the left common carotid artery, the left subclavian artery, and the intercostal arteries with smaller branches.
After passing through the diaphragm in the aortic hiatus, the aorta supplies vessels to the diaphragm, the kidneys (renal arteries) and adrenals, the testicles or ovaries as well as to the three unpaired abdominal vessels before it splits into the two common iliac arteries.
Systematically, the aorta can be divided into different sections:
The aortic isthmus is defined as a physiological narrowing of the aorta, which lies distally to the exit of the left subclavian artery at the junction from the aortic arch to the pars thoracica aortae. It marks the insertion point of the arterial ligament.
The aorta has the three-layer wall construction of the major arteries; the muscular media connects to the intima made of endothelium and connective tissue. The media is characterised by the many elastic fibres. In this way, the aortic can expand during rapid fluctuations in volume (Windkessel function). Externally, the aorta is delimited by the adventitia.
Diseases of the aorta include:
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