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Heart valves

Learning objectives

When you complete this study unit you will be able to:

  1. Name all four valves of the heart.
  2. Describe their overall composition, structure and location in the heart.
  3. Learn their function and role in the cardiac cycle.

Watch video

There are four valves in the heart which can be divided into two groups, the atrioventricular valves and semilunar valves. The atrioventricular valves are located between the atria and ventricles; the right atrioventricular valve (tricuspid valve) is positioned between the right atrium and the right ventricle, while the left atrioventricular valve (mitral or bicuspid valve) lies between the left atrium and the left ventricle. On the other hand, the semilunar valves are the pulmonary valve, located between the right ventricle and the pulmonary trunk, and the aortic valve, between the left ventricle and aorta.

All the valves comprise a fibrous core covered by endocardial lining facing the chambers of the heart, and they promote unidirectional flow of blood through the heart.

Learn more about the gross anatomy of the heart valves, as well as their supporting apparatus and function in the video below!

Take a quiz

Having trouble memorizing the names of all the cusps and structures? Try our quiz and retain a lot more information.

Do you want to learn more about the heart? We’ve got you covered! With our custom quiz you can personalize your own quiz and choose which structures you’d like to be questioned about. Try it out!

Browse atlas

Explore each of the individual structures you learned about today in the gallery below.


Key points about the heart valves
Right atrioventricular valve (tricuspid) Leaflets (cusps): 3 - superior (anterior), inferior (posterior) and septal
Papillary muscles
: Anterior, septal (medial) and inferior (posterior)
: Between right atrium and right ventricle
: Prevents backflow from right ventricle into right atrium
Left atrioventricular valve (mitral) Leaflets (cusps): 2 - anterior (aortic) and posterior (mural)
Papillary muscles
: Inferior (posterior) and superior (anterolateral)
: Between left atrium and left ventricle
: Prevents backflow from left ventricle into left atrium
Pulmonary valve Leaflets (cusps): 3 - anterior (non-adjacent), right (right adjacent), and left (left adjacent)
(No associated papillary muscles)
: Between right ventricle and root of pulmonary trunk
: Prevents backflow from pulmonary circulation into right ventricle
Aortic valve Leaflets (cusps): 3 - right coronary (right semilunar), left coronary (left semilunar), and non-coronary (posterior semilunar)
(No associated papillary muscles)
: Between left ventricle and root of aorta
: Prevents backflow from systemic circulation into left ventricle

Well done!

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