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Anat Rec (Hoboken). 2018 Nov;301(11):1801-1808. doi: 10.1002/ar.23902. Epub 2018 Oct 5.

Heart Anatomy of Rhincodon typus: Three-Dimensional X-Ray Computed Tomography of Plastinated Specimens.

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Department of Anatomy, The Jikei University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan.
Okinawa Churashima Research Center, Okinawa Churashima Foundation, Okinawa, Japan.


In this study, we examined the structure of the heart of the whale shark, Rhincodon typus, using a plastination technique and three-dimensional X-ray computer tomography (3DCT). Inspection of the atrium revealed a symmetric distribution of the pectinate muscles attached to the commissures of the sino-atrial valve, suggesting some functional advantages. The majority of the ventricular wall comprised spongiosa, and compacta accounted for only ~3% of the entire thickness. There were three major fiber orientations in the spongiosa: the fibers on the endocardial side formed trabeculae that were aligned with the blood flow tract, whereas those on the epicardial side formed a circular pattern around the flow tract. Transmural myofibers connected the inner and outer layers in the spongiosa, which may serve as an intraventricular conduction pathway. Plastination and 3DCT is a powerful combination that allowed for multifaceted visualization of the internal structure of rare heart specimens in a nondestructive manner. Anat Rec, 301:1801-1808, 2018.


X-ray computed tomography; heart; myocardial architecture; plastination; whale shark


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