What is the aortic root?
The aortic root is a small section of our main artery (aorta). The aorta starts at the heart and then moves through the chest and abdomen via an arch where it supplies blood to various organs. The aortic root is the first section of the ascending aorta, which is only a few centimeters long.
This part of the aorta begins at the left ventricle and extends a few centimetres vertically upwards until it opens into the aortic arch (Arcus aortae). The function of the aortic root is the so-called air vessel function, which ensures a continuous blood flow. Diseases of the aortic root, such as an aneurysm, remain unnoticed for a long time until they finally lead to life-threatening complications.
Anatomy of the aortic root
The aortic root is the first section of the aorta. The aorta can be divided into an ascending section (ascending aorta), an aortic arch (arcus aortae) and a descending section (descending aorta). The aortic root describes the first short section of the ascending part of the aorta and thus marks the transition between the heart and the aorta.
The ascending aorta begins in the left ventricle and rises vertically a few centimetres until it enters the aortic arch. Because of its immediate proximity to the heart, the aortic root lies completely within the pericardial cavity (pericardium). At the origin of the aortic root is the aortic valve (valva aortae).
This heart valve opens when the heart muscle contracts and pumps the blood into the circulation (systole). However, the aortic valve also has an important function when it is closed. It prevents blood from flowing back into the left ventricle during relaxation of the heart muscle (diastole).
Another structure that is part of the aortic root is the aortic bulb (bulbus aortae). This is a bulbous enlargement at the origin of the aorta. It consists of three small spaces (sinus aortae) formed by the aortic wall and the sails of the aortic valve. From two of these spaces, the coronary arteries (coronary arteries) emerge, which supply the heart muscle with blood.
Function of the aortic root
The aortic root is the first part of the aorta that extends from the left ventricle. Thus, the blood ejected during systole reaches the aortic root first and flows from there further into the ascending aorta, the aortic arch and the descending aorta. The aortic root takes over more than the function of blood conduction.
With each heartbeat, the blood is ejected intermittently from the left ventricle. However, it is necessary for the blood to flow continuously and at a constant speed in the vessels. This task is performed by the aortic root.
In contrast to other sections of the aorta, its vessel wall consists of a particularly large number of elastic fibres. These stretch when the blood is pumped from the heart. They thus store the intermittently ejected blood for a very short time.
This elastic part of the aorta contracts again between two heartbeats, so that the temporarily stored blood is continuously transported into the aortic arch. This vat function of the aorta near the heart thus transforms the pulsating blood into a continuous flow of blood. This air vessel function decreases with age and deteriorates, particularly due to arteriosclerotic arterial changes. This ultimately leads to an increased load on the left heart and can thus lead to heart problems.