An anatomic basis for fetal right ventricular dominance and arterial pressure sensitivity

J Dev Physiol. 1987 Jun;9(3):253-69.


Fetal right ventricular dominance of flow and arterial pressure sensitivity were recently recognized but controversial findings. We investigated ventricular volumes, weights and dimensions in order to understand if there were anatomic differences between the ventricles which might explain these differential functional findings in the fetal sheep. Forty-four near term lambs and their hearts were weighed. Right and left ventricular free wall weights were not different. Volumes were measured by generating in vitro pressure-volume relations and by casting the two ventricles after fixation at equal, physiologic pressures. Right ventricular volume was greater than left ventricular volume by both techniques. Ventricular interaction and a restraining effect of the pericardium were present. Measurements of the fixed ventricles and their casts revealed the following: left ventricular wall thickness was slightly greater than right ventricular wall thickness; lateral ventricular diameters were not different but anteroposterior ventricular diameters were much greater in the right than left ventricle. Because of these findings, the right ventricular circumferential radii of curvature were greater than for the left ventricle as was the radius to wall thickness ratio. Greater right ventricular volume and radius to wall thickness ratio may be important factors in right ventricular flow dominance and greater sensitivity to arterial pressure.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arteries / physiology
  • Heart / embryology*
  • Heart Ventricles / embryology
  • Organ Size
  • Pressure
  • Sheep / embryology*