Variation in the anatomy of the ligamentum arteriosum in a South African sample

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

European Journal of Anatomy


Sociedad Anatomica Espanola

Place of Publication



School of Medical and Health Sciences




Keet, K., Gunston, G., & Alexander, R. (2018). Variation in the anatomy of the ligamentum arteriosum in a South African sample. European Journal of anatomy, 22(2), 119-125. Available here.


The ligamentum arteriosum is a remnant of the ductus arteriosus, which connects the aortic arch and the pulmonary trunk during fetal life. Variation in the anatomy of the ligamentum arteriosum, its connections with the aorta and pulmonary trunk and the course of the left recurrent laryngeal nerve relative to the ligamentum arteriosum were investi-gated. Dissection of the superior mediastinum was performed on 40 cadavers. The anatomy of the ligamentum arteriosum and its relationship to the aortic arch, pulmonary trunk and left recurrent laryn-geal nerve were documented. The dimensions of the ligamentum arteriosum were measured with a caliper. Ligamenta arteriosa in which presence of a lumen was suspected were examined histological-ly. Variation in the structure and size of the ligamen-ta arteriosa was found to be common. A 'line' on the luminal surface of the aorta at the attachment site of the ligamentum arteriosum was observed in 26%. A shallow fossa or depression was found on the luminal surface of the pulmonary trunk in all but one individual. The left recurrent laryngeal nerve was situated lateral to the ligamentum arteri-osum in 97%. Variation in the anatomy of the liga-mentum arteriosum was found to be common, whereas variation in the position of the left recur-rent laryngeal nerve was rare. This information is relevant for surgeons to avoid accidental injury to variant structures. Remnants, in the form of 'lines' or depressions, of the anatomical association be-tween the ductus arteriosus and the aorta and pul-monary trunk were present

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