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Aorta Definition

The aorta is the large artery, the largest main blood vessel in the body. It starts from the lower left chamber of the heart, or left ventricle, arches over to run down along the spinal column, and on its way to the abdomen gives off branches to the head, all internal organs, and to the limbs.

The aorta is about 3/4% of an inch in diameter becoming narrower as it goes down in the abdomen where it divides into the right and left "common iliac arteries."
aorta branches

The opening of the left heart chamber (left ventricle) into the aorta is guarded by 3 valves called the aortic semilunar valves. When these valves are diseased there may be a leak of the blood from the aorta back into the left heart; this condition is called "aortic-regurgitation."

The firstportion of the aorta as it comes out of the heart is about 2 inches long and is called the ascending aorta; this part is a little more than an inch in width.

The second portion is called the arch and is a little over an inch in length and a little less than an inch in width.

The third part is the longest, being about 8 inches long and is called the descending aorta, which passes against the back wall of the chest and then against the back wall of the abdomen; and at the level of the navel it divides into the cornmon iliacs.

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