Mirrored Lungs: When Organs are Reversed


CHICAGO, Ill. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – More than 40,000 people will receive an organ transplant this year. Almost 3,000 will get a second chance at life by receiving a donor lung. COPD, pulmonary fibrosis, and cystic fibrosis are just a few of the reasons someone may need a lung transplant, or even two. And now, doctors are able to help people born with a rare condition called mirrored lungs.

Yahaira Vega was born with a rare disorder that prevents the tiny hairlike structures in her airway from removing germs and pollutants.

“You know that large drink size from McDonald’s, you know, dollar cokes? I could fill one of those with phlegm in a day,” she tells Ivanhoe.

On top of that, Yahaira’s organs in her chest and abdomen were reversed.

Ankit Bharat, MD, Thoracic surgeon at Northwestern Medicine says, “So, your heart is typically on the left side, but now it’s on the right side. The right lung is on the left side, but the left lung is on the right side.”

Dennis Deer was also born with this rare genetic condition called situs inversus.

“I was getting progressively worse to the point where I couldn’t even walk 10 steps without gasping for air,” Dennis recalls.

Both Dennis and Yahaira were the first two patients at Northwestern Medicine to receive double-lung transplants for situs inversus.

“When we take the old lungs out, now you have to put the normal lungs, from a normal person that’s donating the organs, to fit into the cavity that’s the mirror image,” explains Dr. Bharat.

When Dennis woke up from surgery, he knew it worked.

“Incredible. I’m still mesmerized by it,” he tells Ivanhoe.

And now, both Dennis and Yahaira are back to living their normal lives. Situs inversus affects nearly one in every 10,000 people. Often, patients may not even know they have the condition until seeking health care for unrelated conditions.

Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Matt Goldschmidt, Editor.

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REPORT:        MB #5354

BACKGROUND: Situs inversus is a fascinating congenital condition where the major organs of the chest and abdomen are mirrored or reversed from their usual positions. In individuals with situs inversus, the normal asymmetry of the organs is flipped, resulting in a mirror image of the typical arrangement. For example, the heart is located on the right side of the chest instead of the left, and the liver is on the left side instead of the right. This reversal affects not only the heart and liver but also other organs such as the spleen, stomach, and intestines. This rare condition affects every one in ten thousand people in the United States.

(Sources: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/23486-situs-inversus


DIAGNOSING: Diagnosing situs inversus, a congenital condition where the major organs are mirrored or reversed from their usual positions, typically involves a combination of medical history, physical examination, and imaging studies. While situs inversus itself may not cause any symptoms, certain associated conditions, such as congenital heart defects, may manifest with symptoms that prompt further investigation. Imaging studies also play a crucial role in confirming the diagnosis of situs inversus and assessing the position of the organs. Situs inversus may go undiagnosed for years, especially if individuals do not experience any health problems related to the reversed organ placement. It is often discovered incidentally during medical imaging studies performed for unrelated reasons.

(Source: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/23486-situs-inversus

NEW TECHNOLOGY: The evolution of bariatric procedures with new technological advances is creating space for better results and avoiding complications in patients suffering from mirrored lungs and obesity. Morbidly obese patients suffering from situs inversus can safely undergo bariatric surgery to help their conditions. The laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy uses mirrored imaging to be effective in treating patients.

(Source: https://www.cureus.com/articles/13524-a-backwards-approach-to-bariatric-surgery-the-perioperative-approach-used-in-a-woman-with-situs-inversus-totalis-undergoing-a-laparoscopic-sleeve-gastrectomy#:~:text=In%20the%20absence%20of%20high,patients%20with%20situs%20inversus%20totalis.


Jenny Nowatzke


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