After an Italian man got into a motorcycle accident, doctors made an incredible discovery — the injuries caused his heart to turn around and go into the right side of his chest.
The case of the 48-year-old man is documented in the New England Journal of Medicine.
This is a very interesting anatomical finding, and it’s very unusual, Dr Gregory Fontana, of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, who wasn’t involved in the case, told Live Science. I had never seen anything like it. What’s unique about this case is the way the heart rotated so far in the other direction, and the patient was still awake and alert. Related
Doctors made the discovery when they tried to check his heart and a CT scan and X-ray showed it made a 90-degree turn to the right.
But it wasn’t the initial force of the accident that caused the heart to move. Doctors say it didn’t happen until after the accident, when air leaked from his lungs and pressure built up in the chest.
Once the doctors released the pressure, the heart returned to its original position.
The structures in the back of the heart, and the big arteries, are fixed to the spine and to the tissue, but the heart kind of floats around in the sac around it, Fontana said. It’s possible that some looseness in the sac or an injury to the sac around the heart allowed the mobile part of the heart to rotate on the fixed parts and end up on the wrong side of the chest.