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December 25, 2004

BehindTheMedspeak: Situs Inversus


Latin for reversed.

The term in medicine means that the internal organs of the body - stomach, liver, spleen, and intestines - are backward, the opposite of their normal placement.

Dextrocardia - a condition in which the heart is on the right instead of the left, as in the X-ray above - without situs inversus is found in 1 person in 29,000.

Dextrocardia with situs inversus occurs in 1 person in 8,500.

It happens when each parent carries a gene for the disorder: each of their children has a 1 in 4 chance (1/2 x 1/2 = 1/4) of having the anomaly.

The chance of a person with dextrocardia having a child with the same condition depends on their partner's genes: if the other individual is a carrier, there's a 50% chance of their child being affected.

If the other person is not a carrier, then every child will be a carrier, but none will have the disorder.

Genetics is fun when it's like this; it's when crossing over and chromosomal transpositions got involved that I found the going rough.

Anyhow, I only brought up the topic because of a nicely done piece that appeared in Tuesday's New York Times Science section.

Written by Cortney Davis, a nurse practitioner in a women's health clinic, it's an interesting story about what it's like to unexpectedly encounter a very rare condition.

Most people with these transpositions lead normal, healthy lives with no unusual associated problems, though presenting symptoms for a heart attack or appendicitis, reversed from their usual location, might be confusing to a less than conscientious history taker in the ER.


I have yet to have a patient with either situs inversus or dextrocardia.

December 25, 2004 at 10:01 AM | Permalink


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Hello- our 4 year old son has situs inversus totalis-diagnosed while I was still pregnant. He is an active-normal child, who has pneumonia 6-8 times a year (though you'd never know it by his energy level). My question is- with swine flu just around the corner, and his immune system weaker than the average person- how many of you are getting flu shots this season?

Posted by: Heather | Sep 3, 2009 11:19:55 PM


iam male 30 yrs with situs inversus,kartegener syndrome, bronchotics and got married.i am not blessed with child becuase of above disease can any one shade some light ? any solutions ? does ICSI helps or find a donor? pl advice

Posted by: anil kurra | Jun 26, 2009 3:19:11 AM

I am 32 years old. My doctors discovered the total situs inversus when I was 21. I am now 4 weeks pregnant. Has anyone had experiences with this condition and pregnancy?

Posted by: Christina | Mar 27, 2009 10:14:59 PM

My son is 8 years old, he was diagnosed with dextocardia sidus inversus totalis at 3. He has been to heart doctors and has all the lab work on his organs...he lives a completly normal life except seems to have alot of stomach aches. Anyone else? His doctors say they are not related.

Posted by: Jo Tesarik | Feb 18, 2009 6:53:50 PM

hello everyone,
i'm camille, 21 years old, i discovered that i have this condition which is dextrocardia with situs invertus, i never knew that i have this condition until i had my medical exam for employment. the employer didn't hired me right away since they want to know if i was really healthy. it cost me a lot of money because i need to see a cardiologist and have some tests. the cardiologist that i went to told me that it was her first time to encounter someone with dextrocardia. i had undergone some tests like ECG and 2D echo mamogram with doppler. it costs so much but it was amazing to see my heart.

Posted by: camille | Nov 12, 2008 5:43:35 AM

Hello everyone,
I'm 35 yrs old and was diagnosed with this condition - Situs Invertus Totalis with Dextrocardia just a couple of days ago!!
I have always been relatively healthy and basically never knew I had this condition, although some things sort of now seem to fit into place and feel sort of right!!
Anyway, I now have to get further tests to see whether I have any additional complications - which I doubt as I am well in every other aspect, so I guess like most of you, I will just have a silent chuckle at the Doctors being completely baffeled by this condition and not being able to locate my heart straight away!!
By the way - if anyone has any further information on this or associated links I could use, I would really apprieciate it. Thanx

Posted by: Denise | Oct 22, 2008 3:56:15 PM

hi i am a 24 year old male and i have situs inversus totalis, dose anyone know if males with this disorder can have children? i have looked every where and the only information i find is of males who can't have children. can someone shed some light on this?

Posted by: bruno | Oct 13, 2008 9:07:22 AM

Please would like to talk with people having DSI.

Posted by: TULIKA | Sep 16, 2008 2:52:54 PM

hi I have a daughter now 7 months old with situs inversus dextrocardia, she is being tested for kartingers syndrome this week but I am told it takes 3 months to get the results back. She was also born with other problems a small hole in her heart, a tracheo-oeasophageal fistula with oa, tracheomalacia and a slight narrowing to the pulmanary arteiey. She is very stiff especially her neck on one side and her movements are not the same as other babys her age. she dosnt sound the same either, she dosnt babble and her cry sounds the same as her laugh only for her facial reactions do we know she is happy, she also suffers with reflux quite badly. I am at my wits end to get some proper help for her and to understand all her conditions, she was also born with a disformed outer ear which seems to protude in to her skull, her weight gain is fantastic but unexplainable considering her diet, is there anyone out there who can help us please mail me x

Posted by: ruth | Jun 2, 2008 5:35:06 AM

My 13 yr old grandson was born with complete situs inversus plus Kartagener's Syndrome. He is still on oxygen at night and breathing treatments TID. He excretes too much calcium in his urine and is osteoporotic...this has improved with IV medication. He also has oligohidrosis and hyperthermia...especially with exercise. Do you know of children with Kartagener's Syndrome with these additional problems? Sports help his breathing, but he is limited due to the possibility of fractures. An Endocrinologist placed him on Aldactacide to try to decrease calcium excretion. Subsequently, two years ago he had an episode of extreme decrease in sodium while at Disney World..this resulted in seizures...he ended up with central pontine myelinolysis (most likely due to a too rapid increase in his sodium). With Rehab. he has regained almost all function except for tight heel cords and some decreased dexterity in his hands. The seizures caused 6 compression fractures of his thoracic vertebra which required wearing a spinal brace for a period of time due to an increased angularity in the thoracic spine. With all of this, he handles his med. problems well and is in 7th grade. His pulmonologist is puzzled about the inability to sweat and his heat intolerance. Would appreciate hearing from anybody who has a similar constellation of problems.

Posted by: Sue | May 1, 2008 5:04:45 PM

My father (51) just went in for an angiogram this morning and his heart wasn't on his left sine. He has dextra cardia. It seems that he has lived fine with it for the last 51 years.

Posted by: Steve | Apr 2, 2008 2:47:31 PM

My daughter was found to be dextra cardia with situs inversus, on a routine chest xray at the age of 2 months. so far (touch wood) she hasnt had any medical problems, but continues to be monitored by the hospital.

She is mow 14months old and is looks like being left handed, does anyone know if this condition also affects the brain? I am due back at the hospital in October and will ask further questions then.

Also does it affect a girls ability to have children?

Posted by: Claire | Mar 9, 2008 7:28:53 PM

I'm 14 years old, and I have Dextrocardia, only. I always wondered how many other people had it, does anyone know the statistics? I haven't had that many problems with it, but sometimes i have a problems when i'm running, because I run alot. Because my blood cannot pump fast enough or something. But, does anyone know if your supposed to wear a medicial braclet? My junior high nurse said that i should, because i'm a competitive cheerleader, an equestrian jumper, a soccer player, and a active runner. So should I wear a medicial bracelet? I can't ask my mom. So i ran to the internet for answers! Someone help!?

Thanks Much.
- Amber.

Posted by: amber. | Feb 24, 2008 11:56:25 AM

Wow! I am so glad to hear/see all these comments. I knew I couldnt be the only person with dextrocardia. I am a 46 yr old female. When I was very young it was thought I had a heart murmer, b/c doctors always heard a whooshing sound. When I was 9,it was discovered my heart was on "wrong" side. Apparently,I was born with my heart ontop of the lower lobe of my right lung. When the dr picked my heart up, the lung began to function. However, being there was no palce to put my heart, the dr opted to remove the lower lobe of my lung and plunked my heart right back in there. The lobe was the size of a newborn baby. My dr was fascinated by this and actually had polaroid pics of my lung taken in the palm of his hand. Supposedly I am in some type of medical books although I have never seen this nor been able to find out the validity of this.
Anyone know where I can find out if indeed I am in some type of medical book? The surgery took place August/Sept of 1969/70 at Childrens Orthopedic Hospital in Seattle, Washington.

Thanks for the help!
P.S. All my other organs are in the correct spot and it sure is fun to watch a new doctor try to find my heartbeat! LOL

Posted by: Dawnde | Feb 10, 2008 4:56:02 PM


Posted by: BERNIE BRENNAN | Nov 28, 2007 1:19:48 PM

Hi dave here . I have full reversal of organs and i am as healty as the next person .I am 41 happily married let nothing get in my way.Dont let the doctors get in your way live life to the full.

Posted by: dave | Nov 18, 2007 4:04:01 PM

My son who is now 16 yrs old has dextracardia sinus invertus, he was diagnosed during conception. He has been living a health life played sports ( football, basketball, baseball and now plays wrestling in high school). We have been blessed by his remarkable ability to live life, and I continually remind him how lucky he is. We also realized the importance of a cardialogy follow up and continued physical. Thank God for his blessing.

Posted by: fritzi | Nov 4, 2007 10:01:16 PM

I found out my daughter had situs inversus when I was 5 months pregnant.At first I was upset and confused.All of her organs are opposite from ours or are in the midsection of her body.Except for her heart is on the right side.At first thought,I feared that she would have alot of medical problems.However,she is now 4 years old and is doing absolutely wonderful.She had her appendics removed and had a surgery called Ladds Procedure done to prevent a malrotation of her bowels at four months old.She came through with flying colors.Today she is a healthy,thriving child who rarely ever gets sick .She also has polysplenia and horseshoe kidneys.Doctors tell me that she may have gall stones or kidney stones when she gets older but that is not definite.So,she should grow up a normal child.For anyone who has a child who may have this condition or any variation of it, please dont be alarmed.Your child or children can lead a positive and normal life.May god bless all the children.

Posted by: Tammy Kennedy | Oct 28, 2007 7:50:13 PM

When my oldest son was born he had a heart murmer and a collapsed lung. when checking him over they found his heart on the wrong side, seeing this they checked out the rest of him. They then diagnosed him with Situs inversus. he just turned 8yrs old and is a verry healthy and active little boy.

Posted by: Tina | Aug 9, 2007 8:55:50 PM

I am with Dextrocardia. I wish to communicate with people having the same diagnosis Very much . I live in Belarus. I`m 25 years old. Any is interesting to me information about the same people.

Posted by: Mihail | Jul 28, 2007 9:22:17 AM

I am a 49 year old male with total sitis inversus but am very fit and lead a normal life. However, I have no sense of smell. I used to have one when I was young but it disappeared as I got older. I am also unable to have kids.My doctor told me that this is a result of cilliary dykenesis. Interestingly enough, I was a mirror twin. Unfortunately, she was still born. I would like to know if anybody else has the same condition.

Posted by: Phil Osborne | Jul 15, 2007 9:46:53 AM

I have spent my childhood days at hospital rather than at home , always been given whatever the possible treatment removg thr mucus frm lungs,nose,ears,all tests done,a dose of antibiotics to take on everyday basis....just like havg chocolates,need to pop the pills,and along with this many related diseases and pain associated...many people dont know much abt this syndrome and they are too much surprised to hear and find out whether heart is in which positionn left or right...well its lik two sides of a coin..sometimes u appear fine very normal and suddenly abnormal....still research goes on and on

Posted by: sweety | Jul 9, 2007 5:10:48 PM

My name is Beth. I am currently 15 years old and was diagnosed with Full Situs Inversus when I was maybe 1 or so. I also have Immotile Cilia Syndrome which doctors have told me is a side effect of this condition. Immotile Cilia Syndrome is when the cilia in my lungs are deformed and do not work correctly so this causes many health problems. I am very interested in this condition and love to learn more about it. It does worry me though because I have many thoughts about not being able to have children when I get older and if I do I'm afraid that they could end up with worse health problems than me. If anyone knows more information about Situs Inversus or Immotile Cilia Syndrome then please get back at me. I am the only one I have ever met or heard of that has these conditions and sometimes it would be nice to talk to someone about these conditions that actually has them too. I must admit though, it is nice to be different.

Posted by: Beth S. | May 4, 2007 9:34:26 AM

does anyone anywhere know anything about this condition?I'm a 39 year old woman with two daughters aged 17 AND 12.i first found out i had this condition when i was 9 whilst off school with a chest infection,the doctor sent me to hospital for an x-ray!I havent really had any health problems but have suffered a miscarriage and a stillbirth! i am also left handed and have a tendancy to do things in reverse or as though i was looking in a mirror!does anyone know anything about the term mirror twin? I have also been examined by medical students at my doctors surgery,they were completely puzzled! question!does this condition affect the brain i.e.does left side control right side and vice versa or does left side control left side or vice versa!it really is good to be ditterent!

Posted by: lesley | Apr 29, 2007 4:20:56 PM

Parents of children with Dextrocardia with Situs Inversus this is for you. I am a parent of a 11 year old daughter that was diagnosed with Dextrocardia when she was 5. She has has Supra Ventricular Tachycardia. I recenlty found out I have a mutant MTHFR C677T gene. I am curious to find out if any other parent has this gene and if there is a correlation to the Dextrocardia? In the article above, it states that when both parents carry a gene but it doesn't state which gene? Does anyone know which gene this is the we parents carry to cause the Dextrocardia? My brother also has this MTHFRC677T gene and he and his wife had a child who was born with Trisome 18 (extra gene). If you know anything about this please e-mail me.

Thanks, Kathi

Posted by: Kathi Witt | Feb 23, 2007 6:31:46 PM

I am a 55 year old male, I always knew my heart was on the wrong side, I just couldn't convince anyone. Mum took me to a doctor when I was about 9 or 10, and believe it or not, he told me my heart was in the normal place. I then told him it wasn't. He didn't like that too much. True story

Posted by: Dennis | Oct 30, 2006 11:51:57 PM

Our eleven year old son was diagnosed with Situs Inversus Totalis at birth. He suffers with Kartagener's Syndrome, his cilia is disfunctional or absent. He has had countless myringotomies and had a mastoidectomy on his left side in December as his mastoid bones are completely shot from the chronic infections. He hasn't had a serious lung infection since he was born, but a continuous touch of chronic infection and a chronic cough. We live at the Ears Nose Throat Specialist's office and we are lucky to have him monitored by the Pulmonary Specialist and Infectious Disease Specialist's. Alot of physical sports are hard because of his breathing being quite labored, he has a tough time getting a deep night's sleep and is trying a sleep medication at this time. Irrigation of the sinuses everyday helps a wee bit it seems, even though he had sinus surgery as well, it was not successful for him. Adnoids were removed as well. His energy levels get depleted quickly and he suffers with chronic headache and face pain from the sinuses. He sees a Pain Specialist as well to learn coping skills and techniques for dealing with continual pain. He just generally feels crappy!
Stay away from smoking-we have protected him from ever being around toxins as much as we possibly can-without living in a bubble.
Thanks for reading.

Posted by: Gracie | Jul 31, 2006 1:52:46 PM

I am 5 months pregnant with my first child. At my 20 week ultrasound they discoverd that my baby might have sitis inversus. That is not the diagnosis but from what they told me about how his organs are positioned that is what it sounds like to me. I am very worried and scared I have read good things and bad things. I am looking for some postive feedback from people who can relate. Thank You.

Posted by: Amanda | Jul 11, 2006 9:34:15 PM

I have a 7 month boy that was diagnosed with dextrocardia with situs inversus. First few weeks were scarry, but now he is great. He is going to be tested for Kartagener's Syndrome on Thursday. I am interested in finding out as much as possible about the disease. If you suffer from Kartagener, please post or shoot me an email with any advice. Thanks...

Posted by: Ron | Jun 20, 2006 11:11:29 PM

I am 63 years of age and was diagnosed with dextrocardia with situs inversus in 1954.
I was a robust child and can not remember having any childhood infections,measels chickenpox etc.I was considered a tomboy.
I have worked all my adult life,cared for my family with only a three year break.
I feel fit and healthy I dont know what my G.P.looks like and i don't want to,I have enjoyed better health than my siblings.
I am right handed whilst my family are predominatly left handed!!
I did read an article that said all Siamese twins have the condition.

Posted by: sylv | May 2, 2006 12:15:25 PM

I'm a 47 year old male with dextrocardia and situs inversus and have lived a normal life. The only problem I had was when I mixed red wine and Dove chocolate and had a 180 pulse. I ran track in high school,had my heart broken a few times. Life is good.

Posted by: John Sullivan | May 1, 2006 6:00:19 AM

I am 34 and live in England. I also have situs inversus with dextrocardia and have never had any problems whatsoever. I was also born with a tiny heart murmer, at last check - when I was 13 - it was then smaller than a pin head. The condition was diagnosed at birth when the doctors thought my chest xray was the wrong way round. I had check ups at the local children's hospital every three years up till I was 13yrs old, and was then discharged.

When pregnant with my son I had special ultrasounds to see if the condition had been passed on to him, it hadn't.

I just find it a concern that I've never been given a medi bracelet to wear and if I had an accident and needed to be taken to a hospital in an emergency - away from Liverpool, where I live -they would not be aware of the condition and further complications could result in this.

Apart from all that, I think it's quite funny when visiting a doctor for medicals when they aren't aware and look quite puzzled when my heart sounds quite faint on my left hand side!

It's good to be different!!!!

Posted by: Rebecca | Apr 27, 2006 10:40:37 AM

I have a 62 yr old sister, without access to internet (hence my message) who has dextracardia insitus inversus. It's been difficult/impossible to get any info about this condition, or contact any help group in UK. She's had various nonrelated operations over the years, and it's astonishing the ignorance about this condition...one ward sister even said " so, you've got sugar on the heart, then"!My sister has had real joint problems..in her knees, and hands/wrists(necessitating op's on both hands. As a child she used to have "liver-ish" attacks, when she felt shaky and nauseous for lengthy periods.
Any info about this condition, or help groups in UK would be gratefully received

Posted by: G. T. | Apr 23, 2006 5:57:49 PM

I have situs inversus totallis, a few years back my gall blatter decided to give up and I had to have it removed. Prior to the operation I had to go and have an ultrasound done. The 1st technician came in and asked a few questions then said are you sure the pain is on your left side because your gall blatter is on your right. I would have thought the doctor would have let them know first but apparently he didn't. I told her I had situs inversus and she said "Oh, your one of those". After she did the test it had to be checked by the head technician and she asked me not to say anything. The head technician came in and started moving the wand while looking at the picture the 1st technician made and got a real puzzled look on her face. Then she smiled and said I know what you did and reached over and pressed a button that flipped the image (thinking her co-worker was playing games) and proceeded to use the wand again. She then got an even more puzzled look and said "what on earth", I couldn't help myself and started laughing. The other technician reached over her shoulder and flipped the image back and told her what was going on. She looked at me and said "Oh, your one of those." I then began to feel like I was from another planet.

Posted by: Fran | Mar 6, 2006 8:29:09 AM

Hi everyone:
I have been living with Kartagener's syndrome, situs inversus, chronic bronchitis for 45 years. As I get older, it gets worse. My health that is. Every day I wake up and I never feel great! Is anyone else feeling my pain out there? I would love to meet someone else to compare notes. Thanks, take care. V

Posted by: Vina Ortiz | Mar 2, 2006 12:51:23 PM

I am a science research student with questions about dextrocardia. How can i find out how to contact Cortney Davis, the author of the dextrocardia aritcle in the New York Times Dec. 21, 2004? please let me know Thanks

Posted by: jessica | Feb 27, 2006 2:50:51 PM

I have dextrocardia with situs inversus inversus I am 33 years old found out about my condition when I was 10 years old recently diagnosed with hypertention I am wondering if there is a connection would also like feedback from someone who has the same condition would love to stop feeling like I am alone

Posted by: Wendy | Feb 25, 2006 4:40:45 PM

My son was diagnosed with dextrocardia and sinus inversus at 5 months when we went to A&E he had a chest infection and the Xray showed it up.He has had a couple of chest infections since nothing too bad. He has suffer from Glue ear since he was 2 has a constant runny nose and his ear leaks a very smelly discharge i was advised to do pysio on him daily now he is 5 and does his own pysio running cycling jumping I try to encourage it, it has helped no chest infections this year. Waiting now to have his adanoids out and a gromit fitted.

Posted by: Lynn | Feb 20, 2006 6:29:58 PM

I have dextrocardia situs inversus and I am 52 year old and have a 26 years old son. I am from Singapore. I have ankylosing spondylitis which doctor said is hereditary, otherwise I am still fit and leading a completely normal life.

Posted by: mary | Dec 7, 2005 3:49:03 AM

My son was discovered dexocardia 15days old when he was being treated for flu. He later developed breathing problems which took his life when he was three months. He appeared to be fine but suddenly one day he sneezed and vomitted blood and he was not there anymore.

Posted by: Dev | Dec 4, 2005 9:07:53 AM

My son Kyle has dextrocardia Situs Inversus and was diagnosed the day he was born as he was premature (3 weeks early) and showed signs of respiratory distress so the doctors did a chest x ray on him to check for infection and this is how his condition was diagnosed.He is now 6 years old and lives a normal life. He is receiving medication though for Asthma as he has often got a bad cough and throughout his early years has suffered a few chest infections, none of which have been too serious though thank god.This hasn't stopped him from being very active though. However, I also feel I should mention that his rib cage looks slightly distended and this has been noticed by doctor's who see him on a regular basis and they have said it is due to him having regular coughs.

Posted by: Marian Williams | Nov 10, 2005 8:42:52 AM

My 14 month old has dextracardia and situs inversus. It was discovered at an ultrasound when i was 22 weeks pregnant, neither my husband or myself had heard of this condition and have since been checked. Our daughter has been closely monitored and has so far had no problems however we have been told she may suffer from bronchitis and sinus problems due to hair folicles in the nasal passages facing the wrong way. She is to young to tell if this will affect her, has anyone else had any similar problems

Posted by: melanie | Sep 16, 2005 3:46:43 AM

Just discovered that i have dexocardia situs inversus. I guess all these years I just thought that my heart was in the right place.

I have a bunch of medical stuff going on...don't think that the dsi is connected to anything thought. at least i hope not.

Posted by: mk | Aug 13, 2005 3:36:51 AM

I am 14 and i was 3 yrs old when i was diagnosed. I wouldn't have found out about it then if i wouldn't have got sick and had to go to the er!! I've not had any problems up until about a month ago when i had to have a sports physical!! But now the cardiologist said i am fine that i just didn't have enough lung capacity and may have excer. induced asthma which really sucks b/c i do a lot!! I play volleyball, softball, basketball, and dance so it will really suck if i have to stop doing so much!!!

Posted by: Erika | Jul 30, 2005 4:25:11 PM

i have dextrocardia situs inversus,am 26 years old.Have one child and another due in 2 mths!.

Posted by: lorraine mansfield | Mar 14, 2005 6:06:52 AM

I am a 33 year old women living in Nova Scotia. I was born with situs inversus and dextracardia. I lead a completely normal life until I was pregnant in 1995 and I ran into severe kidney problems resulting in surgery at 27 weeks and an early delivery. Since that time I have been plagued with daily kidney problems that appear to be difficult to diagnose; however, specialists feel there is a connection with the situs inversus. I am currently awaiting likely surgery as a result. I would be interested to speak to anyone else who has experienced renal disorders as a possible connection with situs inversus.

Posted by: kendra bishop | Jan 30, 2005 8:08:20 AM

my son has dextrocardia without situs inversus. He is 23 now and when he was born he was flown to Texas Childrens hospital for further evaluation. We were told they were looking for another defect since defects generally come in 2's. Nothing was found and this has bothered me since then, wondering if there was something else.

Posted by: sissy | Dec 25, 2004 11:07:54 AM

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