Atrioventricular Septum: Definition, Function & Development

Instructor: Charity Hacker

I am a nursing instructor with over 20 years of nursing experience and a Masters Degree in Nursing Education.

The heart is a very intricate machine with many essential parts. In this lesson, we will learn about the atrioventricular septum. Specifically, we will explore its definition, function, and development.

The Human Heart

The atrioventricular septum is an essential part of the human heart. We will begin the lesson with a brief review of the anatomy and function of the heart. The heart is responsible for pumping unoxygenated blood to the pulmonary vasculature (the lungs) and oxygenated blood to the rest of the body.

The heart is an organ that is mostly muscle. It consists of two upper chambers called the atria and two lower chambers called the ventricles. The right side of the heart pumps the blood to the lungs, while the left provides circulation to the rest of the body.

The left and the right sides of the heart are divided by a septum. A septum is described as a wall that divides some part of the body. The heart's septum has three parts: the atrial septum, the atrioventricular septum, and the ventricular septum. You can imagine the septum as being the barriers in the middle of an interstate road. Cars are the blood and traffic is the blood flow. More about that later!

What is the AV Septum?

The atrioventricular septum (AV septum) is the name for the wall of tissue that separates the left ventricle and the right atrium. It is made of membranous tissue and muscle tissue.

The AV septum is also the home of some parts of the heart's conduction system. The electric current that causes the heart to beat runs through this area. Specifically, the AV node, also called the Aschoff-Tawara Node, is located near the top of the septum in the floor of the right atrium. It also contains the next stage of conduction through the Bundle of HIS.

What is the Function of the AV Septum?

Now, back to the AV septum as an interstate barrier. The barriers are not only an upright structure, but they also prevent any cars from crossing over to the other side. Northbound cars cannot cross over and go south, and southbound cars cannot cross over and go north. The AV septum keeps the unoxygenated and oxygenated blood from crossing over (or through) the septum before it reaches its expected location. It keeps the traffic or blood flow going in the right direction.

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