Heart Anatomy

During a second year Intro to Internal Med course, part of the course was made up of clinicals. I was placed in cardio. One day, while waiting for the doctor, one of the students and I had a conversation.

Student: “So today we’re doing valvular diseases, right?”

Me: “Yeah.”

Student: “Sometimes this doc is so complex, so I prepared a bit for this session. And I figured I’d go over some of the basic heart anatomy too – ’cause, you know, that’s probably useful to know, right?”

Me: “Of course, I should really take the time to go over the vasculature of the heart. I still get confused with it.”

Student: “Right, so want to do a quick review?”

Me: “Sure, we’ve got time to kill.”

Student: “Ok, so let’s start with the pumping action of the heart. Blood travels from the right atrium to the left atrium, and then to the right ventricle and finally to the left ventricle.”

Me: “…”

Student: “And the first valve at the atria is the tricuspid and between the ventricles you have the mitral.”

Me: “…”

Yes… someone in med school really told me this. And not a first year. This is someone who passed first year – someone who passed anatomy and physiology. I spent a few minutes explaining to this student how venous blood travels into the right atrium-tricuspid valve-right ventricle path before being pumped into the lungs, and then how this newly oxygenated blood returns to the left atrium-mitral valve-left ventricle path before being pushed into the aorta. I think they understood me.

Later, while we were examining a patient’s heart via echocardiography, the Doc kept talking about heart valves and leaflets. At one point, the student whispered a question, “What’s a leaflet?

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