I am finding that some state that there are 5 and some that say that there are 3.

For example, "Cardiology: An Integrated Approach" that was published in 2018 states that

There are 3 surfaces of the heart: anterior, inferior, and posterior

Radiopedia, Teach Me Anatomy, and others state that there are 5.

Why is there this difference? What exactly is a surface?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Hmm. Curious what answers you get. Anecdotally, I've studied cardiac (and especially coronary) anatomy extensively and have never seen these "surfaces" described. Seems silly to me and not related to the actually relevant anatomy. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Feb 11, 2020 at 2:55

1 Answer 1


Heart surfaces are not clearly anatomically defined but arbitrary determined in the context of the heart orientation, that is the relation of the heart to other organs. Different sources mention 3 or 5 heart surfaces and there seems to be no "official" agreement about this.

Most sources (Dartmouth College, Gray's Anatomy for Students 2004...) agree about at least 3 surfaces:

  • Anterior (or sternocostal)
  • Inferior (or diaphragmatic)
  • Left pulmonary

Many sources (TeachMeAnatomy, KenHub...) mention additional 2 surfaces:

  • Posterior (or base)
  • Right pulmonary

The reasons for disagreement:

  • The heart base may not be considered a distinct surface (as in the picture).
  • The right pulmonary and anterior (sternocostal) surface are often considered one surface.

enter image description here

Picture: Heart surfaces (source: Echo Class 101)


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