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Ann Anat. 2019 Jul;224:8-16. doi: 10.1016/j.aanat.2019.03.006. Epub 2019 Apr 1.

Flap valve of the heart foramen ovale revisited: macroscopic and histologic observations of human near-term fetuses.

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Division of Common Curriculum, Hokkaido Chitose College of Rehabilitation, Chitose, Japan.
Department of Anatomy, Chonbuk University Medical School, Jeonju, Republic of Korea. Electronic address:
Department of Maxillofacial Anatomy, Graduate School of Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Tokyo, Japan.
Department of Anatomy, Akita University School of Medicine, Akita, Japan.
Division of Internal Medicine, Jikou-kai Clinic of Home Visit, Sapporo, Japan.
Department of Anatomy and Human Embryology, School of Medicine, Complutense University, Madrid, Spain.


We assessed the flap valve of the foramen ovale (FO valve) by examining 30 hearts from human fetuses of gestational age 30-40 weeks. We dissected the hearts, examined their macroscopic morphology, and then prepared semiserial sagittal sections across the valve. Although the primary septum is expected to extend along the left atrial face, eight hearts had a superior rim of the fossa ovalis on the left atrial face that was too thick and high, so there was no smooth continuation with the valve. Moreover, three of these eight hearts each had a flap valve that was fused with a long and narrow plate arising from the caval orifice. Histological analysis indicated that 21 specimens each had a candidate primary septum that contained myocardium, although the left sinuatrial valve (LSAV) contained fibrous tissue, but little or no myocardium. In each of 17 hearts, a candidate primary septum was attached to the left atrial face of the fossa, and parts of the LSAV extended to and approached the right atrial face. However, seven of these 17 hearts each had a folded small primary septum. Another four of these 17 hearts each had an LSAV that extended widely to the fossa, and a candidate primary septum (which might be a remnant) attached to the left atrial side of the LSAV. These variations suggest that the LSAV makes a major contribution to the FO valve in some fetal hearts. Consequently, the fetal FO valve appears to have heterogeneous morphology and origin.


Flap valve of the foramen ovale; Human fetus; Left sinuatrial valve; Primary atrial septum; histology

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