What are the great arteries of the heart?
The collective term “great arteries” refers to the two main arteries of the heart, the pulmonary artery and the aorta.
Similarly, the term “great vessels” refers to a collection of the heart’s largest vessels, specifically the superior vena cava, the inferior vena cava, the pulmonary arteries, the pulmonary veins, and the aorta.
Although not technically correct, sometimes the terms great arteries and great vessels are used interchangeably.
What is the aorta?
The aorta, the body’s largest artery, is a blood vessel that transports oxygen-rich blood to the body from the left ventricle. It begins at the left ventricle and extends downwards to the abdominal region. It then splits into the common iliac arteries and branches out.
In medical sources, the aorta is normally described as having four sections, namely the ascending aorta, the aortic arch, the thoracic aorta, and the abdominal aorta.
What is the pulmonary artery?
The pulmonary artery, the second largest artery in the body, is a blood vessel that carries deoxygenated blood to the right and left lungs from the right ventricle.
It begins at the right ventricle’s base and extends upwards, splitting into two arteries (the left pulmonary artery and the right pulmonary artery) that branch into the corresponding lungs.
The pulmonary artery is the only artery (apart from umbilical arteries) that carries deoxygenated blood.
What is transposition of the great arteries?
When the positions of the aorta and the pulmonary artery are transposed (switched) or reversed, this is known as transposition of the great arteries.
In people with this heart defect, which is rare but sometimes present at birth, the aorta connects to the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery connects to the left ventricle, changing circulatory function and depriving the body of much-needed oxygen. This can be quite serious.