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USC - University of Southern California Cardiothoracic Surgery at University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine
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Glossary of Terms

The human body has two main kinds of blood vessels, arteries and veins. The arteries, with only two exceptions, transport oxygen-rich blood from the heart and lungs to the rest of the body. The veins transport the blood that has been used by the body’s organs to the heart and lungs so that it can be re-oxygenated and pumped back to the rest of the body.

The largest of the arteries in the human body is the aorta, bringing oxygenated blood to all parts of the body. The aorta begins at its connection to the left ventricle and distributes blood to the body. The aorta can be divided into 4 sections:

  1. The ascending aorta , travelling upward, is the section between the heart and the aortic arch.
  2. The aortic arch is the U-shaped curve after the ascending aorta.
  3. The descending thoracic aorta , travelling downward, follows after the aortic arch.
  4. The abdominal aorta then follows the descending aorta.

Further down below the abdominal aorta, it splits into the left and right iliac arteries.



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