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What Is Dextrocardia?

Dextrocardia is the term used for the abnormal positioning of the heart. This congenital disorder happens during the fetal stage. Instead of the heart forming on the left side of the body, the organ flips over and forms on the right side. There are several recognized types of dextrocardia, which is also known as looping defects. This congenital defect is usually discovered during a routine prenatal sonogram. Not all radiologists catch this though, especially if there are not cardiac structural defects or abnormalities.

Mirror image dextrocardia is considered a very rare congenital defect. It is estimated that only one in 130,000 people develop this condition. This particular looping defect not only means that the heart flips to the right side, but all of the other organs in the middle of the body also develop in reverse. To put it simply, an x-ray of a person with mirror image dextrocardia will look like the mirror image of a person whose heart and organs are normally placed in the body.

Mirror image dextrocardia was first documented in the 1920s when X-rays were able to show this abnormal organ placement. It has also been noted that with this looping defect, there are some cases where the cilia (small hair-like structures) found in the nose and lungs would move even move in the opposite direction, which results increased likelihood of the patient suffering from colds and other illnesses. But aside from this increased likelihood to suffer from colds, a person who has mirror image dextrocardia does not need any kind of special treatment or even surgery.

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