Notes on Fetal Circulation

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Foramen ovale:

Connects the left and right atria, allowing not allowing blood to go to the lungs through the pulmonary valve.

Ductus arteriosus:

This is a connection between the arch of aorta and pulmonary trunk, not allowing blood to go to the lungs.

How many umbilical vessels are in the umbilical cord? What type of vessel carries blood with a higher oxygen concentration?

The umbilical cord contains one umbilical vein and two umbilical arteries. The umbilical vein carries the most oxygenated blood.

Describe the normal flow of blood in the fetus. Where does the fetus get its oxygen?

Oxygenated blood flows from the placenta to the umbilical vein to the ductus venosus to the IVC to the right atrium. Oxygen is acquired via gas exchange in the placenta.

How is the pulmonary circulation different in the fetus compared with an adult?

The lungs are nonfunctioning in the fetus, thus, all the oxygen and nutrients come from the placenta. Lungs are bypassed through the foramen ovale and ductus arteriosus.

Describe the changes that occur to the circulation when the baby begins to breathe air and the umbilical cord is cut:

The foramen ovale, ductus arteriosus and ductus venosus close and the lungs are cleared off amniotic fluid.

Additional Reading:

Basic Cardiology

1. Electrical Activity of the Heart
2. Heart Muscle Mechanics
3. Heart Sounds and Murmurs
4. Additional FAQ on Heart Sounds and Murmurs
5. Cardiac Conduction Diagram
6. Blood Pressures in Cardiac Chambers
7. What is Pulsus Paradoxus?
8. FAQ on Heart Murmurs and Mechanisms of Turbulent Flow
9. Notes on Fetal Circulation
10. FAQ on Ischemic Myocardial Infarction
11. FAQ on Electrocardiograms / ECG / EKG
12. FAQ on Cardiac Conduction
13. The Heart as a Pump, the Cardiac cycle and Cardiac Output
14. What are the most common causes of aortic stenosis?
15. What is Pulseless Electrical Activity?
16. Causes and Complications of Arteriovenous Fistulas
17. CHADS2 Score for Atrial Fibrillation Stroke Risk
18. How to Reduce Blood Pressure without Medications?
19. Types of Shock
20. Locations of Heart Murmurs on Chest Wall
21. Types of Heart Blocks

Electrocardiogram (EKG/ECG) Topics

1. EKG Chest Leads
2. EKG Limb Leads
3. Quick 12-Lead ECG/EKG Format

Cardiology Videos

1. Video of Cardiology Examination in a Clinical Setting

Medical Images

Useful Medical Images & Diagrams (link opens in a new window)

Related Topics

1. Thorax Anatomy
2. Vascular Disorders
3. Heart Disorders
4. Histology of the Cardiovascular System
5. Jugular Venous Distention Workup
6. ER Chest Pain Workup
7. Cardiac Examination for Internal Medicine
8. FAQ on Blood Pressure
9. FAQ on principles of fluid and flow dynamics of Blood

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