By using excised postmortem hearts obtained from 15 mongrel dogs with the pericardium intact, we investigated mechanical interactions between the four heart chambers from the standpunt of ventricular pressure-volume relationships. The interactions investigated were those between (1) the atrium and the ventricle, (2) the right ventricle and left ventricles, (3) the atrium and one ventricle vs. the other ventricle, and finally (4) the left and right atrium and the right ventricle vs. the left ventricle. For these purposes, we inserted compliant balloons into the four heart chambers without injuring the pericardium, i.e., we incised the base of the atria which was not covered with the pericardium. We obtained the right and/or left ventricular pressure-volume relationships under a constant pressure in three other heart chambers by changing the height of the reservoir connected to each balloon. As a result, both ventricular pressure-volume relationships were hardly affected by an increase in the atrial pressure ranging from 5 to 30 cm H2O with the pericardium removed, although the ventricle became less compliant due to an increase of the same magnitude of the opposite ventricular pressure. On the other hand, the effect of an increase in atrial pressure was distinct with the pericardium intact. Also, all mechanical interactions were enhanced dramatically with the intact pericardium. Thus, the pericardium plays an important role in these mechanical interactions, especially when the filling pressures of all heart chambers increase simultaneously. Clinically, these findings may be important to understanding ventricular functions as related to various heart disease - especially acute heart failure.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine