What is the right ventricle?
In the heart, there are four hollow chambers. The atria are the two upper chambers. The left ventricle and right ventricle are the two lower chambers.
In a normal human heart, de-oxygenated blood passes down continuously from the right atrial chamber to the right ventricle by way of the tricuspid valve. It then passes through the pulmonary valve and pulmonary artery before reaching the lungs.
What does the right ventricle look like?
When viewed from the side, the right ventricle appears triangular in shape. In the transverse position, it resembles a crescent. Lying closely behind the sternum or breastbone, the chamber sits below the right atrium, extending from the tricuspid valve to near the heart’s apex.
There are three parts to the ventricle: the inlet, the apical trabecular, and the outlet or conus arteriosus. Its walls are divided into the anterior, inferior, and lateral (free) segments, and each wall has a basal, mid, and apical section. The right ventricle forms part of the septal wall.
Several bands are featured on the trabeculated right ventricle, three of which are prominent – the parietal band, the septomarginal band, and the moderator band. The moderator band serves to reinforce the thin walls of the ventricle and facilitate cardiac conduction.
At one-sixth the mass of the left ventricle chamber, the right ventricle is thinner and less developed than its counterpart, and it has a lower blood pumping capacity.
What is the function of the right ventricle? How does it function?
The main function of the right ventricle is to receive blood from the right atrium and pump it into the left and right pulmonary arteries, carrying blood low in oxygen to the left and right lungs for oxygenation.
The ventricle, which is in effect a muscle, has to do several things for a person’s heart to function.
First, it must fill up rapidly with deoxygenated blood that enters the right atrium from the large superior vena cava and inferior vena cava veins after every contraction.
Second, it must contract with the speed and force needed to push deoxygenated blood into the pulmonary artery as it withstands natural pulmonary pressure.
The right ventricle must also adjust its pumping volume under control of the autonomic nervous system.
What happens when the right ventricle doesn’t function properly?
While the left ventricle (the main pumping chamber) is generally much more prone to disease, problems can occur with the right ventricle and cause symptoms and complications.
Right-sided heart failure can arise, for example, resulting in palpitations, breathlessness, fatigue, and life-threatening arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms). Other times, congenital heart defects may develop, such as arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia or double outlet right ventricle.
People with ARVD have fatty, scarred tissue in place of muscle of the right ventricle, which can lead to tachycardia, ventricular arrhythmias, and sudden cardiac death. It is relatively rare, however.
Those with a double outlet right ventricle have great arteries that arise from the right ventricle. This can cause breathing difficulties and usually requires surgical treatment.