Archive for the ‘Right ventricle’ Category

Right ventricle,being a venous chamber has distinct anatomical and physiological features to carry out this function.RV has a complex shape, its triangular in long axis and  crescent like in short axis , thin (<5mm)  more distendable  .Contraction of RV begins slightly early but ends later than LV  (30ms )

RV receives blood from RA and ejects in to PA in a sequential manner .The inflow, body and outflow contract somewhat like  intestinal peristalsis. This is facilitated  by the incremental  delay in the electrical depolarization of right ventricle.In physiological conditions, the later half of QRS  is  responsible for RV activity and RVOT is the last to contract. (This intrinsic electrical and mechanical  delay in RV contraction is a physiological inter ventricular  desynchrony . One  should be aware of this when planning cardiac resynchronisation therapy in cardiac failure.  )

Click over the image for an animation of RV contraction.


Image courtesey Oxford spcialist hand book in cardiology :Echocardiography Paul Leeson , Second edition ,.Oxford university press 2012 Multi media .

Note:LV is  a fairly   elliptical and strongly  muscular pump and contracts in a  single go with maximum force.(dp/dt).

Final message

Though both right and  left ventricle originate from same  straight heart tube , developmentally the right ventricle evolves for a different form and function . Now,we realise there are lots of sharing of parental muscle fibers that engulfs and bonds both chambers.(Mind you ,This is the fundamental mechanism of ventricular interdependence.Of course ,IVS is a common wall shared lifelong by both chambers  without any (sibling related?)  hemo-dynamic dispute !

3D echocardiography and MR imaging has helped us to understand the RV morphology better and exciting articles written by pioneers are available  free for those who are interested.


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The right ventricle  is considered as a docile cardiac chamber with passive filling and  emptying  properties .

This belief  was reinforced when Fontan  in early 1970s suggested a principle in the management of  cyanotic heart disease  when  the right side of the heart is underdeveloped. He  proved  RV can be by-passed safely , with  great veins  (IVC/SVC)  by  themselves  take care of filling the pulmonary circulation  without the need of RV pumping function.

While it is true for few complex cyanotic heart disease, largely this a misleading  concept. In clinical cardiology practice  ,sudden or non sudden  RV deaths happen every day in the form of . . .

  • RV Infarction
  • Acute RV dysfunction in massive pulmonary embolism
  • COPD with RV dysfunction
  • Most cases dilated cardiomypathy  the terminal event is due to RV  failure.

So , RV function can never be dispensable in day to day cardiac hemodynamics.

RV has some unique properties in terms of shape , size and  hemodynamics . We are getting more insights from  modern blood pool imaging by MRI , about  how the RV handles the blood volume .

We know RV has a unique shape  triangular ( partially  pyramidal ) . It can be inferred the RV cavity is formed by fusion of  many  eccentric spacial planes. We have always believed  RV handles the blood it receives from right atrium in a unique way .Now we are beginning to understand it .It is now documented the RV segregates the blood it receives into 4 components.


right ventricle physiology anatomy hemodynamics

It is curious  to know  RV inflow is connected to the outflow by an invisible   physiologic Bridge . About 44% of  blood traverse the RV in this fashion.


RVOT blood flow right ventricle

Note : RV blood flow preferentially enters the RVOT with out transiting RV body and apex.Image courtesy http://ajpheart.physiology.org/


Which is the most important part in RV ? (Among Inflow, Body, Apex, Out flow)

After reading this article it seems to me , the mechanical  function of RVOT could be most  vital. If it fails to handle the first increment  which  comes directly from  RV inflow, stasis  is likely in RV body and apex , elevating RVEDP and later promoting stasis leading to clinical events.

Clinical implication of this study

  • Differential dilatation RV chambers to pressure or volume  overload is observed .
  • We need to analyse why RV dilates in some   but   goes for hypertrophy in others when confronted with pressure overload (VPS vs PAH)
  • RV apical clot in restrictive cardiomyopathy  is a direct consequence of stasis  of blood  in RV apical zone .
  • RVOT pacing  may have a hemodynamic advantage  over RV apical pacing  . However , for anatomical reasons RV apical pacing  is  far safer than RVOT pacing where the lead  is subjected to constant life long strain due to this busy RV inflow to outflow express  high way !

Final message

Traditionally we have labeled  RV  as a  passive venous chamber .It is clearly a misnomer.It  has to handle both the venous and pumping function beat to beat with precision  without  back log .Obviously ,  RV has to think and work  more than it’s  big brother !


I wonder , if  there is  any other site other than APS . . . to  find crucial  answers in cardiac physiology  !


Right ventricle physiology blood flow  3d 4d analysisAfter thought

  • There is huge gap between physiologists  who work in research labs and the physicians at bed side .
  • I appeal all young cardiologists  to visit  APS  once in a while ,between your busy cath lab schedule and help narrow this gap.
  • Without understanding the physiology properly how are we going to intervene the pathology ?


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Right ventricle is a passive venous component of the heart .It simply acts a  transit pump for blood to reach the lungs.

It  is true  , RV is dispensable in many complex congenital heart disease as we  can connect the great veins directly into the pulmonary artery  by  Fontan , Glean and it’s clones  bye passing this chamber . Still , by no means the importance of this chamber is to be underestimated.  RV dysfunction and failure  is the key to survival  many  disorders.RV shock is is cause of sudden cardiac death in acute pulmonary embolism and RV infarction .

RV is an unique muscular chamber .It is more of a triangular shape. It has  three different parts connected by three different angle .There is no true  apex  for RV , it is   connected  to Inflow and outflow in peculiar fashion .

In the  following table I have  tired to  describe  of how different parts of RV  behave in various disorders.

what is the morphology of  RV enlargement RV inflow outflow body sinus portion of RV

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