There is a curious anomaly that affects 0.01% of the population –1 out of every 10,000 inhabitants of the planet– that causes the mirroring of major visceral organs from their normal positions: for example, the heart is on the right or the appendix to the left.

Most people with this congenital condition called situs inversus, which means inverted position, have no medical symptoms or complications resulting from the condition in general, however it may cause problems when their condition is unknown. Nowadays it is easily detectable in any routine medical examination. However, formerly, when there was no machinery to observe the interior of the human anatomy, those who suffered from it were totally unaware they had their organs inverted. That caused that certain symptoms (such as a pain in certain place) could get confused by the doctor, diagnosing an incorrect disease.

To give a practical example: there were cases of people who went to the doctor suffering from an annoying pain in the left side of the abdomen. The physician diagnosed intestinal obstruction or a simple accumulation of gases, when the patient was really suffering a severe appendicitis that could end in a dangerous – and sometimes mortal – peritonitis. Not knowing the actual position of the patient’s organs made impossible to diagnose the correct condition.

Not all those who with situs inversus have all of their organs inverted. In fact, in most cases only one organ is placed inversely. This is the case of those who suffer from dextrocardia, a congenital condition where the heart is located towards the right side of the thorax instead of the left. It can also occur that the heart is located exactly in the center of the chest – not to the left or to the right, this is known as mesocardia.

Throughout history, many cases of these conditions were only discovered until the patient was open for surgery or even an autopsy.

The mirror effect of internal organs was first described by the famous Scottish pathologist Matthew Baillie in the late eighteenth century. In fact, the discovery of this malformation occurred in the year 1788 during the dissection of a corpse by the students of Baillie at the ‘Hunterian Medical School’ in London.

A century earlier (1643) the Italian physician Marco Aurelio Severino had already described a case where the patient’s heart was located in the right side of the thorax. A malformation that, as it was released by the press, that the popular singer Enrique Iglesias has.


Source: Agencia ID