Search databaseBooksAll DatabasesAssemblyBiocollectionsBioProjectBioSampleBioSystemsBooksClinVarConoffered DomainsdbGaPdbVarGeneGenomeGEO DataSetsGEO ProfilesGTRHomoloGeneIdentical Protein Web CatalogNucleotideOMIMPMCPopSetProteinProtein ClustersProtein Family ModelsPubChem BioAssayPubChem CompoundPubChem SubstancePubMedSNPSRAStructureTaxonomyToolKitToolKitAllToolKitBookgh Bookshelf. A business of the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.

You are watching: Which of the following is the most superficial layer enclosing the heart?

StatPearls . Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-.



Located within the mediastinum between the third and sixth costal cartilperiods, the heart attributes to supply tproblems throughout the body via oxygenated blood. While the specific place is variable among patients, the heart often tends to lie fairly horizontally, through the apex directed toward the patient’s left side.

In order to preserve proper feature, the heart and roots of the great vessels are encased within a double-walled fibrous sac termed the pericardium. On each side of the heart, the pericardium acts as the medial border of the pleural area. The most superficial layer, the fibrous pericardium, is robust and also created of many layers of connective tproblem. The serous pericardium is separated into the parietal pericardium, which is straight fprovided via the fibrous pericardium, and also the visceral pericardium, which adheres straight to the heart. In addition to the collagen and elastic fibers that consist of the parietal pericardium, the visceral pericardium is also composed of mesothelial cells. The 2 layers are straight linked at the excellent vessels, wbelow the pericardium reflects back on itself.<1><2><3>

Structure and Function

The heart"s ability to adequately pump blood throughout the body is straight dependent on its structure and also push differences within its chambers. Sindicate put, blood flow with the heart deserve to be visualized as 2 interwcooktop circuits. Deoxygenated blood retransforms to the ideal atrium, through the superior or inferior vena cava, and also moves via the tricuspid valve right into the appropriate ventricle of the heart during diastole. The tricuspid valve closes during the systolic phase, and also blood is funneled with the pulmonic valve into the pulmonary circulation. Blood will certainly come to be oxygenated and also relocate right into the left atrium, consequently relocating into the left ventricle via the mitral (bicuspid) valve. Due to the high pressure within the ventricle, oxygenated blood is ejected through the aortic valve and right into the systemic circulation. <4>

The heart’s capability to perfusage tworries throughout the body is supported by the multiple physiological features of the pericardium. The strong fibrous pericardium protects the heart by acting as a obstacle versus pathogens. Due to its non-compliant framework, the fibrous pericardium additionally serves to hinder severe dilation of the heart when intracardiac volume boosts. The pericardium likewise features to anchor cardiac structures through its many kind of layers of connective tconcern. By attaching to the sternum, diaphragm, and tunica adventitia, the fibrous pericardium boundaries the heart’s movement within the mediastinum. The pericardium plays a function by encasing pericardial liquid (typically 20 to 25 mL) within its 2 layers, which reduces friction throughout heartbeats by lubricating the surfaces involved. The liquid is rich in prostacyclin, which also helps to regulate coronary artery tone in the area. Contrasted to serum, the pericardial fluid has a lower osmolality, containing much less protein and also more albumin. It is secreted by mesothelial cells within the serosal layer.<5>


Heart breakthrough starts within the fetus throughout the middle of the third week and also begins to beat spontaneously by the finish of the fourth week. The process of myocardiogenesis starts via the formation of endocardial tubes by lateral plate mesoderm. Body folding brings the endocardial tubes to the thorax, where the tubes fusage into a major heart tube. Soon after, the myocardium, acquired from the splanchnic mesoderm, covers the heart tube and also the facility begins to loop.<6>

Once heart looping is complete at the finish of week 4, separation of heart chambers starts. The formation of a septum primum begins to separate the atria while a muscular septum forms between the ventricles. Further separation occurs due to the expansion of endocardial cushions, which develop on the atrioventricular canal. While important for the development of a four-chambered heart, the endocardial cushions additionally play a far-ranging role in valve development. By week 7, the development of a foraguys secundum and also a foramales ovale occurs between the atria. In the complying with weeks, the coronary sinus is created, and also the semilunar and also atrioventricular valves are completed.

The pericardium develops concurrently with the advancement of the heart. As the heart tubes fuse and affix to anterior and also posterior walls, the left and also appropriate intraembryonic coelomic cavities technique each various other. Soon after, the cavities fusage and also develop the pericardial cavity, enveloping the heart tube within its dorsal wall. 

Blood Supply and also Lymphatics

Perfusion of the myocardium and also epicardium is dependent on coronary arteries, which are normally installed within epicardial fat. Left and also appropriate coronary arteries arise from their respective aortic sinsupplies, located simply exceptional to the aortic valve. The left coronary artery moves for a little period within the coronary sulcus before separating right into the left anterior descfinishing (LAD) and also circumflex coronary arteries. The LAD runs anteroinferior, offering the anterior two-thirds of the interventricular septum prior to commonly anastomosing through the posterior descending artery. The circumflex artery continues within the coronary sulcus towards the crux of the heart. Branches of these arteries adequately supply the left ventricle via blood and nutrients. The best coronary artery runs in the coronary sulcus towards the posterior section of the heart and is important for perfutilizing the best ventricle via its marginal branches. On its route, it often perfprovides the SA node. Near the crux of the heart, the AV nodal artery frequently comes off the RCA. In over 70% of human beings, the RCA continues and also supplies the posterior one-third of the interventricular septum as the posterior descfinishing artery.

Lymph within the heart drains from the subendocardial tproblem within the atria and ventricles right into an epicardial plexus. From here, the lymph runs in multiples vessels within the AV groove until combining and relocating ameans from the heart in the mediastinal lymphatic plexus.

Blood supply to and from the pericardium is dependent on the pericardiophrenic branches of the internal thoracic vessels (previously the internal mammary vessels). The pericardiophrenic artery runs between the pericardium and the pleura alongside the phrenic nerve.

Lymphatic drainage of the visceral pericardium utilizes the tracheal and also bronchial lymph chain while the parietal pericardium drains similarly to the sternum and also diaphragm.


Cardiac feature is dependent on correctly timed contractions of the atria and also ventricles. In a healthy and balanced heart, the impulse originates within the sinoatrial node (SA node), which is a mass of muscle fibers in the best atrium wall. Conduction moves to the atrioventricular (AV) node within an inferior area of the interatrial septum. Here, the impulse is momentarily delayed, which allows for filling of the ventricles, prior to traveling with the bundle of His in the interventricular septum. The bundle of His bifurcates into appropriate and left bundle branches as it moves inferiorly. The impulse is then distributed through the Purkinje fibers (subendocardial branches), which transmit the signal to papillary muscles and the ventricular wall. Coordinated contractivity of the ventricles begins at the apex and also moves towards the base.

The rate (chronotropic) and also pressure (inotropy) of cardiac contractions are regulated through sympathetic and also parasympathetic innervation. Cell bodies for sympathetic innervation are situated within the first 5 thoracic levels of the spinal cord while parasympathetic innervation works with branches of the vagus nerve (CN X).

The fibrous pericardium and serous pericardium are innervated by the phrenic nerve, which is derived mostly from cervical nerve 4 but also has contributions from the 3 and also 5. Due to its origin, pericarditis and also other cardiac complications deserve to reason referred pain to the shoulder. The serous pericardium has actually branches of innervation from the vagus nerve via the esophageal plexus. The pericardium has actually a considerable collection of mechanoreceptors and also chemoreceptors that are responsible for specific reflexes. The Bezold-Jarisch reflex refers to a triad of bradycardia, hypostress, and apnea that occurs due to receptors in this location.


Moving superficially, the heart wall deserve to be split right into the endocardium, myocardium, and epicardium. The endocardium is a thin layer of supporting connective tworry and also smooth muscle fibers, which line the heart chambers and valves. Connective tproblem builds up within the subendocardial layer, which attaches to the myocardium and also contains branches of the heart’s conduction mechanism. The myocardium is the thickest of the three layers, particularly within the left ventricle, and is responsible for the ejection of blood during contractions. The epicardium (visceral pericardium) is responsible for the production of pericardial fluid and also the protection of the other heart layers.

Physiologic Variants

Dextrocardia describes the congenital condition wbelow the apex of the heart is directed towards the best side of the chest. The defect is regularly attributed to Kartagener syndrome (main ciliary dyskinesia).

A patent foramales ovale occurs if the septum primum and also septum secundum fail to fusage in the time of embryogenesis. This deserve to bring about paradoxical emboli that enter systemic circulation instead of the lungs.

Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF) is a congenital heart defect due to the anterior deviation of the aorticopulmonary septum. The malalignment leads to pulmonary stenosis, an overriding aorta, a ventricular septal defect, and right ventricular hypertrophy.

Ventricular septal defects are the most prevalent congenital cardiac anomaly. They frequently occur within the membranous portion of the ventricular septum and have the right to bring about a left-to-appropriate shunt within the newborn.

While the pericardium serves many type of physiological roles, its existence is not a necessity. Congenital lack of the pericardium or its surgical removal (pericardiectomy) does not tfinish to cause symptoms in patients.

Defects of the pericardium are inregular (approximately 1 in 10,000 patients) and have a left side preprominence (70%). They can periodically compush cardiac structures, such as coronary arteries or the left atrial appendage.

Surgical Considerations

Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) is a procedure to reclaim cardiac tconcern perfusion after a coronary artery becomes occluded. Two prevalent viewpoints including rerouting the left internal thoracic artery to the LADVERTISEMENT or using the great saphenous vein from the patient’s leg.  

Pericardiocentesis is a medical procedure where the liquid is aspirated from the pericardial cavity. Normally, the needle is put simply left of the xiphoid process and inferior to the left costal margin. Echocardiography is regularly utilized to proccasion puncturing the heart.

Due to their area on each side of the pericardium, phrenic nerves should be figured out during thoracic surgeries. Damage have the right to result in paralysis of the diaphragm.

At their lines of reflection, the visceral and parietal pericardium layers create two sinoffers. The transverse pericardial sinus, located posterior to the ascending aorta and also anterior to the exceptional vena cava, is an important landmark to recognize structures in the time of CABG measures. A second pericardial sinus, the oblique sinus, is located posterior to the left atrium and permits for disstress and anxiety of the chamber.

Clinical Significance

Pericardial effusion describes abnormal levels of fluid within the pericardial area. This is frequently attributed to a decrease in liquid resorption, which have the right to take place with a lymphatic obstruction or venous hyperanxiety. In acute cases, the sudden boost of volume have the right to bring about heart dysattribute if the press boosts sufficient. However, slow buildup of liquid can cause the pericardium to stretch, which enables the cavity to withstand also greater pressures. While a selection of clinical functions exists, effusions frequently current through chest pain or dyspnea.<7><8>

Pericarditis describes inflammation of the pericardium, which often presents through chest pain and also fever before. Usually, the pain aggravates with inspiration or coughing and is alleviated by leaning forward or sitting. On auscultation, a friction rub is regularly current. Acute pericarditis can be attributed to both contagious and also non-infectious reasons. While frequently idiopathic, many type of situations are thought to be viral via echovirus and coxsackievirus being the a lot of prevalent. Nontransmittable reasons of pericarditis encompass neoplasms and also damages resulted in by myocardial infarction. Electrocardiograms in patients with pericarditis generally show ST-segment elevation in all leads besides aVR and also V1.

Dressler syndrome is a kind of pericarditis, believed to be an autoimmune reactivity to particular myocardial antigens, that occurs at least 2 to 3 weeks after myocardial infarction.

Constrictive pericarditis describes fibrosis and also thickening of the pericardium. The subsequent loss of compliance decreases the heart’s capability to pump blood adequately. The majority of instances of constrictive pericarditis are considered idiopathic. In addition to decreased cardiac output and elevated venous pressures, Kussmaul’s authorize may additionally be oboffered. This refers to a paradoxical boost in jugular venous disstress throughout impetus.

See more: How Many Ml In A Gallon? Us Gallons Of Water To Milliliters Of Water

Cardiac tamponade occurs when a rise in pressure, because of reasons such as hemopericardium or pericarditis, compresses the heart and restricts sufficient cardiac output. By decreasing compliance, normal venous go back to the right atrium is hindered. Acute cardiac tamponade deserve to current with Beck’s Triad, which has hypotension, jugular venous distension, and also muffled heart sounds on auscultation. Pulsus paradoxus, an exaggerated decrease in systolic blood push during catalyst, is additionally often viewed.<9><10>