Graduation Date

Spring 5-4-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Medical Anatomy

First Advisor

Dr. Sam Simet

Second Advisor

Dr. Travis McCumber

Third Advisor

Dr. Megan Perry

MeSH Headings



Congenital heart defects are atop the list of the most common type of birth defects in modern obstetrics. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 40,000 births each year are diagnosed with a congenital heart defect, composing an annual rate of 1%. Of those 40,000 births, roughly 1 in 4 are severe enough to require surgical intervention. Acknowledging that heart disease has been the leading cause of mortality for the past several decades, the former can certainly have additive effects toward this trend. There are several different etiologies and forms of heart defects that are often found in these congenital cases; however, this study will focus on patency of the foramen ovale. The foramen ovale is a critical fetal shunt in the development of a fetus that ideally closes within the first few months following parturition; however, it is very common to experience improper closure of this structure leading to a patent foramen ovale. The high incidence of this has led to the novel classification of this observance simply being an anatomical variant, although recent research has shown there to be a correlation between a patent foramen ovale and stroke incidence. This study aims to explore morphological variation of the fossa ovalis in the University of Nebraska Medical Center cadaver lab. This cadaveric study utilized 48 hearts that underwent uniform dissection procedures by students in order to obtain several measurements of the fossa ovalis while noting presence of patency and comparing it to primary literature of similar research. With inclusion of medical history of donors within the lab, correlation between patency and incidence of stroke as well as heart disease is also explored. Obtainment and analysis of measured data within this study helps to add to the documented results surrounding this research, aiding to the progressive knowledge surrounding the fossa ovalis and its’ patency that is often observed.


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Available for download on Sunday, April 26, 2026