BACKGROUND: Little attention has been paid to the architecture of the muscle fibres of the ventricular walls in congenitally malformed hearts. In this study the gross pattern of myocardial fibres in normal hearts was compared with that in cases of tetralogy of Fallot. METHODS AND RESULTS: After morphological examination nine specimens with tetralogy were dissected to study the ventricular myoarchitecture. Changes were found in the shape of the malformed ventricles. The ventricular walls were arranged in layers in all hearts. Superficial and deep layers were present in both ventricles, with the superficial layer showing a more oblique orientation in the specimens with tetralogy than in normal hearts. Modifications of muscle fibre that were related to the type of malformation were seen in the deep layer. A middle layer was present in the left ventricles of normal hearts and specimens with tetralogy: this showed a horizontal orientation in both groups. In contrast, a middle layer was found in the right ventricle only in specimens showing tetralogy. CONCLUSIONS: The malformed hearts showed modifications in ventricular shape, in the arrangement of muscle in the right ventricle, and in the overall myoarchitecture. These changes could well be the consequence of the same agent (or agents) that caused the structural defect.
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