Review Article

Anatomical Science International

, Volume 86, Issue 1, pp 30-49

First online:

Anatomy of the cardiac nervous system with clinical and comparative morphological implications

  • Tomokazu KawashimaAffiliated withDepartment of Anatomy, School of Medicine, Tokyo Women’s Medical University Email author 

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Unlike autonomic nervous preservation in other surgeries for improving patient quality of life, autonomic cardiac nervous system (ACNS) preservation has been neglected in cardiovascular surgery because of technical difficulties and other unsolved issues. Because such ACNS preservation in cardiovascular surgery is anticipated in the future, detailed anatomical investigation of the human ACNS is required. Therefore, we have conducted morphological studies of the ACNS from macroscopic, clinical, and evolutionary anatomical viewpoints. In this study, I review detailed anatomical studies of the human ACNS together with their clinical implications. In addition, the evolutionary comparative anatomical significance of primate ACNS is also summarized to help understand and translate the findings of functional experiments to humans. These integrated findings will be the subject of a future study unifying molecular embryological and anatomical findings to clarify cardiac functions based on functional animal experiments, clinical applications such as improving surgery techniques and individual order-made surgery in cardiac surgery, and for future evaluation in regenerative medicine.


Autonomic cardiac nervous system Clinical anatomy Comparative anatomy Evolution Primate Human heart Cardiac nerve Cardiac branch