Many anatomy units will include the dissection of the heart, and specimens can vary.  Preserved sheep and cow hearts can be obtained from supply companies. Fresh hearts may also be available from local butchers or hunters.   All mammalian hearts follow the same basic pattern: two atria, two ventricles, and four major vessels.

The dissection of the heart occurs in two phases.

Phase 1 involves the examination of the external features and the identification of the four main vessels that can be viewed without cutting the heart open.

Phase 2 involves the cutting of the heart so that the internal chambers and valves can be viewed.  

heart in tray


When you first receive your heart, rinse it and massage the muscle tissue to loosen it and make it easier to work with. Always were nitrile gloves and safety goggles when handling specimens.

You will need a scalpel, probes and pins for the dissection. Colored pencils may be useful for marking the location of vessels.