Heart has been considered as the source and the seat of emotions, passion and love. But from the dawn of XIXth century, scientists have emphasized that the heart, though life depends on its ceaseless activity, is merely a electromechanical pump, pumping oxygenated blood. Nowadays, we all know that heart pumps blood commensurate with the needs of the body and this unending toil, and its regulation depends on the intrinsic properties of the myocardium, Frank-Starling Law and neurohumoral contribution. It has been understood, though not clearly enough, that these time-tensions may cause structural or functional cardiac impairments and arrhythmias are related to the autonomic nervous system. Less well known and less taken in account in daily cardiology practice is the fact that heart has an intrinsic cardiac nervous system, or “heart brain” consisting of complex ganglia, intrinsic cardiac ganglia containing afferent (receiving), local circuit (interneurons) and efferent (transmitting) sympathetic and parasympathetic neurons.
This review enlightens structural and functional aspects of intrinsic cardiac ganglia as the very first step in the regulation of cardiac function. This issue is important for targets of pharmacological treatment and techniques of cardiac surgery interventions as repair of septal defects, valvular interventions and congenital corrections. (Anadolu Kardiyol Derg 2008; 8: 451-4)