aortic valve (anatomy)

Last reviewed 01/2018

The aortic valve consists of a complex of structures surrounding the aortic orifice along the outflow tract of the left ventricle. Blood passes through the valve to the ascending aorta. Typically, the valve has three leaflets which are semilunar in shape. Above each leaflet is a dilatation of the ascending aortic wall termed the aortic sinus. The ostia of the coronary arteries originate from two of the coronary sinuses. Just inferior to the valve is the aortic vestibule.

The plane of the valve is angled to the right, superiorly and anteriorly. It is slightly inferior to the pulmonary valve which lies to its left. It is anterior and slightly superior to the mitral valve.

It resembles the structure of the pulmonary valve except that in keeping with the higher pressures on the left side of the heart, the aortic valve is thicker. Common features include:

  • annulus, part of the fibrous skeleton of the heart
  • valve leaflets
  • sinuses