Dextrocardia is a congenital cardiac defect. People born with dextrocardia have their heart positioned on the right side of the thorax.
Although dextrocardia does not necessarily lead to the appearance of symptoms and dysfunction, some individuals may start to experience shortness of breath, cyanosis (lips and skin), fatigue and a hindered growth. In cases where dextrocardia is isolated, the heart is located on the right side of the thoracic cavity and other cardiac irregularities may be present as well, such as a septal defect, pulmonary hypoplasia, etc . Another type of dextrocardia, dextrocardia with situs inversus, involves the misplacement not only of the heart but of the rest of the viscera as well - the heart is a mirror image of a normal heart and the lungs, diaphragm and other internal organs are mirrored as well. If all of the organs are mirrored, the condition is referred to as dextrocardia with situs inversus totalis.
In general, situs inversus implies the mirror-like reversion of the internal organs in the body and can either accompany a normal heart, or a heart with dextrocardia        . In general, the term dextrocardia means that the cardiac apex is directed to the right when a child is born, but provides no other information concerning the location and arrangement of the atria or ventricles. Situs inversus more frequently occurs when a person is born with a cardiac apex directed to the right ; individuals born with levocardia (left orientation of the apex) and situs inversus most often exhibit congenital heart disease as well       .
People born with dextrocardia often have their great arteries in a reversed position as well.
A safe method in order to definitively confirm suspicion of dextrocardia, with or without situs inversus, is a computed tomography scan (CT), since it enables the physician to accurately pinpoint the position of the internal organs, the position and alignment of the cardiac apex and various other information. An electrocardiogram can also outline inverted waves, that can raise suspicion of the condition. An ultrasonographic scan or a plain X-ray can also reveal signs possibly associated with dextrocardia, but do not suffice in order to establish a diagnosis       Should further information be required after performing a CT scan, a magnetic resonance imaging scan can also be carried out     .
Dextrocardia cannot be corrected in itself, since the heart and viscera are located in the opposite positions, in comparison to their normal locations. Patients born with it receive solely symptomatic treatment when their condition interferes with vital functions and leads to health problems; however, the majority of the people born with dextrocardia do not face any symptoms and lead normal and healthy lives.
It is important to bear in mind that, should there be a need for an ECG on a person with dextrocardia, the positions of the leads should be reversed in order to obtain a valid result, in terms of cardiac function. Defibrillation should likewise be conducted with the pads positioned in reverse locations (upper left - lower right). Given that individuals with dextrocardia are often simultaneously affected by other cardiac irregularities, such as septal defects, the latter can also be surgically addressed. Other comorbidities are treated also symptomatically: a malfunctioning spleen or the absence of a spleen, often observed in dextrocardia, render the administration of precautionary antibiotics necessary in some occasions.
In general, many people with dextrocardia lead their lives unaffected by the condition. Severer cases, however, are followed by increased morbidity, surgeries to repair the defect and frequent hospitalizations.
There are five primary types of dextrocardia, which have been outlined following the observation and analysis of fifty cases of the condition. Every case of dextrocardia that is a result of the abnormal growth of the primitive heart tube is termed intrinsic, whereas a cardiac displacement that occurs due to the anomalous positioning of other organs (lungs, diaphragm etc) is termed extrinsic:
Dextrocardia is a relatively rare condition, with 1 child in every 12,000 live births being born with the condition. There is no ethnic or gender-related predilection .
From an embryologic point of view, the heart develops from the primitive heart tube, which is formed after the two endocardial tubes are conjoined. The primitive heart tube lacks mobility and plasticity on both its ends; the middle region is the structure that loops, in order to give shape to the atria, ventricles, sinus venosus, bulbus cordis and truncus arteriosus. The right and left atrium are the first to be formed in an embryo, with their situs being in correspondence to the visceral situs, for this reason, an displacement of the atrium is usually attributed to an anomaly affecting the visceral situs .
The bulboventricular region is the part of the primitive heart tube that is curved, in order to produce the aforementioned structures. Its precise direction and bending style is responsible for the potential misplacement of the apex and dextrocardic phenomena. If it is bent in the style of a "D", the cardiac apex is moved from the right side of the thoracic cavity to the left one quite early during gestation. Should the bulboventricular region form the shape of an "L", however, the cardiac apex moves to the left side of the chest. In some cases, the heart's apex does not migrate to the left side of the thorax, even though there is a D-loop, and the resulting condition is known as dextroversion. Quite similarly, an abnormal L-loop of the bulboventricular region also leads to dextrocardia. Large vessels may also accompany a heart that is affected by dextrocardia, alongside other manifestations, including the existence of only one ventricle, atresia of the tricuspid valve, etc .
Dextrocardia is a congenital defect and there is no substantial advice concerning its prevention. However, it is believed that, during pregnancy, avoiding drugs such as cocaine and following a correct therapeutic scheme in cases of diabetes mellitus can prevent some cases of dextrocardia. Families can receive genetic counseling if there is a family history of the condition.
Dextrocardia is a congenital defect that affects the heart. It involves the malpositioning of the heart, which, instead of the left hemithorax, is located on the right hemithorax. Cardiac chambers are also malpositioned. The condition typically leads to no severe complications or morbidity. It is important to draw attention to the fact that the alteration in the heart's location induces respective alterations on the morphology of the electrocardiogram, when performed on such a patient. Individuals affected by dextrocardia exhibit the following unique electrocardiographic morphology:
The aforementioned changes are attributed to the reversed positioning of the cardiac structures. Even though the organ functions normally, in affected individuals depolarization is initiated on the left and is transmitted to the right, since the chambers and atria are located on the opposite of the normal side. A subcategory of dextrocardia is dextrocardia with situs inversus. This condition is characterized not only by the abnormal position of the heart itself, but some or all other viscera (spleen, liver, lungs) are also in a reversed location.
Dextrocardia is a congenital condition. This means that a person cannot develop it during the course of their lives, but it is born with it. Dextrocardia actually means a "right heart": people born with it have their heart in an abnormal position, either on the right side of the trunk, instead of the left, or with the lower frontal part being directed to the right, instead of to the left. Dextrocardia is often accompanied by other abnormalities. Many times it is not the only organ to be positioned in the wrong location, but the rest of the internal organs, such as the lungs, spleen or diaphragm are reversed as well (dextrocardia with situs inversus). The condition is diagnosed with an electrocardiogram, an ultrasonographic scan and a CT scan. Patients most of the times do not need any treatment and experience no symptoms or health problems; in more severe cases, however, surgical treatment, the administration of antibiotics and other measures are taken in order to ensure that the individual can be fully functional.