Bizarre case study reveals man with his body organs on the wrong side

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Situs Inversus Totalis
(Credit: NEJM)

A medical emergency room with the patient turned into a tale of an unexpected tale in the case of a 66-year-old man who turned up at the hospital with coughs and chest pains. Only for the doctors to realize that the internal organs of the patients were on the wrong side of the body like the heart was on the right, liver on the left, etc. The report was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

This condition is named as Situs inversus totalis and it is not life changing as it sounds. This was discovered due to modern medical scanning tools and many people had lived their lives without any diagnosis. The doctors have said that the patient was migrated to the United States after being in a refugee camp for 20 years. The findings as shown by the chest radiograph were dextrocardia in which the heart is situated on the right rather than on the left and a mirror image transposition for the abdominal organs. The symptoms of the man included chest pain, congestion and coughing and a little pain on the left of the abdomen as seen on the medical reports.

This case is very rare but not unheard. Donny Osmond is a well-known case of Situs Inversus Totalis where all internal organs are flipped like a mirror image and this common type affects close to 1 in 10,000 people. Such people are generally seen wearing a bracelet that declares and signals the doctor of this disorder in case of an emergency surgery where the doctor might mistakenly open the wrong part of the body. The heart is the part where most of the complication occurs in the case of Situs Inversus and dextrocardia in which the key important arteries can end up lying in parallel rather than crisscrossing which makes the heart surgery and transplants very difficult to operate.

The name of this abnormality was coined by Matthew Baillie in 1788 which is “location” and “opposite” in Latin and this terminology is continued by doctors and scientists even today. One recent case was reported of Rose Marie Bentley who lived up to the age of 99 years and no one knew about this abnormal condition until her death report came. Her heart was on the correct side of the body which makes Situs Inversus much more dangerous.

Situs Inversus is often dismissed as an X-ray error after the reports when the baby is born and is the reason why people aren’t diagnosed until many years later.

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