PHILIPPE PLAILLY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PHILIPPE PLAILLY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Macrophotograph of the chordae tendineae of the mitral valve in a human heart. The mitral valve separates the left atrium from left ventricle & allows a one-way flow of blood from atrium to ventricle. The chordae tendineae are string-like processes that attach the outer parts of the valve to projections in the wall of the ventricle, forming anchorages with the capillary muscles. Rupture of the chordae, through injury, endocarditis or degeneration results in mitral incompetence - the failure of the mitral valve causing a reverse flow of blood from the lower ventricle to the upper atrium.
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