Table of contents:
- Main symptoms
- How to confirm the diagnosis
- Possible causes
- How the treatment is done
- Possible complications
Dextrocardia is a rare congenital condition in which the person is born with the heart on the right side of the body, instead of the left, caused by problems in the development of the heart during pregnancy, or due to problems in other organs, such as liver, spleen or intestine, for example, causing the heart to shift to the right side.
Dextrocardia may not cause symptoms, especially when only the heart is on the right side of the body and its functioning is not altered. However, when dextrocardia occurs associated with a condition called situs inversus, in which other organs, such as the liver or spleen, are also positioned on the opposite side of the body, symptoms such as shortness of breath, excessive tiredness, or bluish skin and lips can arise..Understand better what situs inversus is.
Treatment of dextrocardia should be done under the guidance of a pediatrician or cardiologist, according to the symptoms, and the use of medication to prevent complications or, in some cases, surgery may be indicated.
Dextrocardia may not affect the functioning of the heart, causing no symptoms, and in these cases, it is diagnosed in routine exams. However, it can increase the risk of lung infections or pneumonia.
In addition, when the functioning of the heart is affected or when dextrocardia occurs associated with the incorrect positioning of other organs in the body, such as the liver, spleen, stomach or intestine, for example, symptoms such as:
- Blue skin or lips;
- Shortness of breath;
- Excessive fatigue;
- Yellowish skin or eyes;
- Decreased tolerance to physical exercise;
- Cardiac arrhythmia;
- Intestinal obstruction;
- Productive cough with blood;
- Wheezing in the chest;
- Chest pain;;
- Difficulty gaining weight and growing;
- Lack of appetite;
- Breathing fast;
- Swelling of legs and belly.
These symptoms of dextrocardia can arise depending on the other organ that is in the opposite position of the body, which are usually caused by other congenital conditions such as situs inversus or Kartagener syndrome, which is a genetic disease characterized by alteration in the organization of the cilia lining the respiratory tract. Understand better what Kartagener syndrome is.
In case of symptoms of dextrocardia, it is important to consult the pediatrician, in the case of children, or the cardiologist, in the case of adults, so that the diagnosis can be made and the most appropriate treatment started.
How to confirm the diagnosis
The diagnosis of dextrocardia is made by the pediatrician or cardiologist, through physical examination, analysis of symptoms and imaging tests such as chest X-ray, computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging.
Other tests that the doctor may order tests such as electrocardiogram or echocardiogram.
In addition, a doctor may also order a nasal biopsy or nasal nitric oxide test to diagnose Kartagener syndrome.
The causes of dextrocardia are not fully known, however, they are related to abnormalities in the baby's heart development during pregnancy and are usually related to a family history of this condition.
In addition, developmental problems in other organs, such as the lungs or abdomen, can cause the heart to shift to the right side of the body, causing dextrocardia.
How the treatment is done
The treatment of dextrocardia should be guided by a pediatrician or cardiologist. In cases where the heart develops on the right side but is functioning normally, it is generally not necessary to undergo any type of treatment.
However, in cases of problems with the functioning of the heart, due to defects in the atria, ventricles or heart valves, or poor positioning of arteries, the doctor may recommend surgery to correct the defect.
In addition, depending on the symptoms presented, the doctor may indicate the use of antibiotic drugs to treat lung infections, expectorants or mucolytics to help eliminate phlegm, in addition to diuretics or antihypertensives, for example.
In the case of intestinal obstruction, surgery may also be indicated by the doctor, as it is a serious situation that can be life-threatening. Find out how surgery is performed to clear the bowel.
Dextrocardia can cause some complications such as frequent pneumonia, intestinal obstruction or heart failure.
Furthermore, in the case of dextrocardia caused by Kartagener syndrome, frequent pneumonia, recurrent sinusitis, or even infertility may occur in men.