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Heart Dissection

mammalian heart dissection guide header image

The mammalian heart is the central organ of the circulatory or cardiovascular system. It pumps blood to the body’s organs and tissues delivering oxygen and nutrients, while transporting wastes away.

Dissection of a preserved sheep or pig heart offers students an excellent opportunity to learn about mammalian heart anatomy. While dissecting, students can also explore how blood is pumped through the heart. Preserved sheep and pig hearts, while smaller and larger respectively, are similar in structure and function to the human heart, making this dissection great for many labs—from basic biology to human anatomy courses.

Use the instructions below to investigate the internal and external anatomy of the preserved sheep heart. For more detailed dissection instructions and information, check out Carolina® dissection kits.

mammalian heart dissection guide header image

The mammalian heart is the central organ of the circulatory or cardiovascular system. It pumps blood to the body’s organs and tissues delivering oxygen and nutrients, while transporting wastes away.

Dissection of a preserved sheep or pig heart offers students an excellent opportunity to learn about mammalian heart anatomy. While dissecting, students can also explore how blood is pumped through the heart. Preserved sheep and pig hearts, while smaller and larger respectively, are similar in structure and function to the human heart, making this dissection great for many labs—from basic biology to human anatomy courses.

Use the instructions below to investigate the internal and external anatomy of the preserved sheep heart. For more detailed dissection instructions and information, check out Carolina® dissection kits.

Heart Dissection Videos

Heart External Anatomy

  1. Place the preserved heart on your dissecting tray.
  2. Using your forceps, remove the fat that covers the upper part of the heart and blood vessels. The fat is light colored, soft, and without structure.
  3. Locate the external structures labeled on the anterior and posterior sides of the heart, as shown below.
  4. anterior view of mammalian heart

    posterior view of mammalian heart

Heart Internal Anatomy

  1. Position the heart anterior side up.
  2. Use your scalpel to cut the heart in half across both atria and ventricles as shown in the figure below.Tip: Begin at an atrium and cut around the heart to the vessels. Open the heart and cut the thick intraventricular septum to complete the separation.
  3. Internal anatomy of the mammalian heart

  4. Identify all the internal structures labeled in the figure above.
  5. Using available references, use your probe to trace the path of blood through the heart, beginning with the superior vena cava.
  6. Follow all clean-up and disposal instructions.

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