A complete mirror image dextrocardia with no heart defects requires no treatment. It is important, however, to let the child’s health care provider know the heart is on the right side of the chest. This information can be important in some exams and tests.
Treatment for conditions that include dextrocardia depends on whether the infant has other heart or physical problems in addition to dextrocardia.
If heart defects are present with dextrocardia, the baby will most likely need surgery. Critically ill babies may need treatment with medication before surgery. These medications help the baby grow stronger so surgery is possible.
- “Water pills” (diuretics)
- Medications that help the heart muscle pump more forcefully (inotropic agents)
- Medications that lower blood pressure and ease the workload on the heart (ACE inhibitors)
The baby might also need surgery to correct problems in the organs of the abdomen.
Children with Kartagener syndrome will need repeated treatment with antibiotics for sinus infections.
Children with a missing or abnormal spleen need long-term antibiotics.
All children with heart defects should get antibiotics before surgeries or dental treatments.
See also: Congenital heart defect corrective surgery
Babies with simple dextrocardia have a normal life expectancy and should have no problems related to the location of the heart.
When dextrocardia appears with other defects in the heart and elsewhere in the body, how well the baby does depends on the severity of the problems.
The death rate in babies and children without a spleen may be very high, due to infections.
Complications depend on whether dextrocardia is part of a larger syndrome, and whether other problems exist in the body. Complications include:
- Bacteria in the blood (septic shock)
- Blocked intestines
- Congestive heart failure
- Infection (heterotaxy with no spleen)
- Infertility in males (Kartagener syndrome)
- Repeated pneumonias
- Repeated sinus infections (Kartagener syndrome)
Calling Your Health Care Provider
Call your health care provider if your baby:
- Is often ill
- Does not seem to gain weight
- Tires easily
Seek emergency care if your baby has:
- A bluish tinge to the skin
- Trouble breathing
- Yellow skin (jaundice)
Review Date : 4/30/2008
Reviewed By : Mark A Fogel, MD, FACC, FAAP, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Radiology, Director of Cardiac MR, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Division of Cardiology, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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