The aortic root has long been considered an inert unidirectional conduit between the left ventricle and the ascending aorta. In the classical definition, the aortic valve leaflets (similar to what is perceived for the atrioventricular valves) have also been considered inactive structures, and their motion was thought to be entirely passive—just driven by the fluctuations of ventricular–aortic gradients. It was not until the advent of aortic valve–sparing surgery and of transcatheter aortic valve implantation that the interest on the anatomy of the aortic root again took momentum. These new procedures require a systematic and thorough analysis of the fine anatomical details of the components of the so-called aortic valve apparatus. Although holding and dissecting cadaveric heart specimens remains an excellent method to appreciate the complex “three-dimensional” nature of the aortic root, nowadays, echocardiography, computed tomography, and cardiac magnetic resonance provide excellent images of cardiac anatomy both in two- and three-dimensional format. Indeed, modern imaging techniques depict the aortic root as it is properly situated within the thorax in an attitudinally correct cardiac orientation, showing a sort of “dynamic anatomy”, which admirably joins structure and function. Finally, they are extensively used before, during, and after percutaneous structural heart disease interventions. This review focuses on the anatomy of the aortic root as revealed by non-invasive imaging techniques.
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