Pediatric Dextrocardia

At Children's Health℠, our multidisciplinary teams work together to care for all of your child’s health needs in one place. Our highly- trained physicians have experience with rare conditions like dextrocardia and offer specialized care to help your child’s heart work as it should.


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What is Pediatric Dextrocardia?

Pediatric dextrocardia is a condition that affects the location of your child’s heart. Dextrocardia occurs when your child is born with their heart on the right side of their chest instead of the left side of their chest. While dextrocardia itself doesn’t cause any health problems, some children have related issues and other complex problems in their heart and other organs that need medical attention.

Children’s Health offers care from some of the nation’s top pediatric heart specialists and we have seen many children with dextrocardia. This gives us the expertise and experience to help your child achieve the healthiest possible life.

What are the different types of Pediatric Dextrocardia?

Dextrocardia can occur in different ways.

Isolated dextrocardia

Isolated dextrocardia means that although your child’s heart is on the right side of their body, they have no other problems with their heart or body structure.

Dextrocardia with situs inversus

In this case, your child’s heart and other organs in their chest or abdomen, such as their lungs or liver, are reversed. However, it might not cause your child any problems at all. You should just be aware of the condition in case they ever need surgery, such as having an appendix removed.

Dextrocardia with situs inversus totalis

With this type of dextrocardia, the position of all of your child’s organs in their chest and abdomen are reversed. Again, this might not cause any health problems for your child.

Dextrocardia with associated heart abnormalities

In addition to dextrocardia your child may have abnormalities like:

  • Arteries connected to the wrong spots in the heart
  • Ventricular septal defect (hole in the heart)
  • Narrow or misshapen heart valves
  • Single ventricle instead of two ventricles
  • Poorly formed or missing walls separating the four chambers of the heart

What are the signs and symptoms of Pediatric Dextrocardia?

  • Fatigue
  • Yellowed skin
  • Bluish skin
  • Frequent infections or illnesses
  • Trouble breathing
  • Growth problems or failure to grow

How is Pediatric Dextrocardia diagnosed?

Many times, doctors notice dextrocardia before a child is born during a prenatal ultrasound exam. They might recommend you get more ultrasounds of your baby to check for other problems in the heart.

After your child is born, their doctor may perform tests to make sure they don’t have other structural heart defects or a missing spleen. These tests might include an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) and blood tests.

Some children are older before they are diagnosed. Your pediatrician might notice their heart sounds are louder on the right than on the left. If they don’t show any signs or symptoms of heart problems, they might not be diagnosed with dextrocardia unless they have a chest X-ray for other issues. If your child does have symptoms of a heart problem, they may need tests such as an echocardiogram to look at their heart in motion.

What causes Pediatric Dextrocardia?

We still don’t know what causes dextrocardia. It is likely due to a change in your child’s DNA, but it’s not currently linked to any genes they inherit from their parents.

How is Pediatric Dextrocardia treated?

Isolated dextrocardia with no other issues doesn’t need treatment. When it is associated with other heart defects, your child might need medicines or surgical care to help their heart to work properly.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Will pediatric dextrocardia cause heart problems for my child when they are older?

    Isolated dextrocardia won’t cause any heart problems for children. But they should know about the condition so they can tell their doctors in the future.

  • Will my child need surgery for pediatric dextrocardia?

    Your child won’t need surgery for isolated dextrocardia. The heart can work fine on the right side of the body. However, if they have other heart abnormalities, they may need surgical care to correct those issues while leaving the heart on the right side of the body.