Man's Heart Moves to His Right Side, and Back

Motorcycle accident has 'unique' consequence

By Derek Andersen,  Newser Staff

Posted May 8, 2014 5:03 AM CDT

(Newser) – Talk about heart-wrenching: An Italian man’s heart rotated 90 degrees to the right after a motorcycle accident, placing it in the right side of his body in a case that’s understandably being described as "unique," LiveScience reports. The unidentified 48-year-old rider suffered punctured lungs, broken ribs, and a ruptured spleen, but when ER doctors went to check his heartbeat, they realized something was off. An X-ray and CT scan revealed the movement. According to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine, the man's heart was likely repositioned after the accident, as air from his leaking lungs built up inside his chest cavity and essentially pushed his heart.

The man’s spleen was removed and the air was drained from his chest; his heart returned to its normal position within 24 hours and showed no "relevant anatomical disruption" afterward. A heart surgeon not involved in the man's treatment tells LiveScience that while the "structures in the back of the heart and the big arteries" are anchored in place, the heart lives in a sac that allows for some movement. It's been known to shift in cases where the right lung has been surgically removed. (A man managed to save his own heart—using a gardening trick.)

The relocation of the heart after a motorcycle accident was described as unique
The relocation of the heart after a motorcycle accident was described as "unique"   (Flickr)
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