Picture courtesy of the New England Journal of Medicine – original article at www.nejm.org
We’ve all had our hearts “skip a beat” from excitement or an unexpected fright, but a motorcycle accident actually caused an Italian man’s heart to rotate inside his body, and end up on the wrong side of his chest. A new report on his case indicates this is a highly traumatic injury made even more interesting by the fact that the patient was still awake and alert.
While being treated at the emergency room, doctors discovered that the 48-year-old man’s heart was in the wrong place when they tried to listen to his heartbeat. An X-ray and CT scan of the man’s chest confirmed his heart had rotated 90 degrees to the right, according to the doctors who authored the report, published in the May 7 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
It’s logical to assume that the violent twisting of the body during the accident is what caused the man’s heart to rotate; however, in reality, his heart probably moved in the minutes, or perhaps hour, after the accident. Doctors discovered that the man’s lungs had sustained puncture-type injuries during the accident, which caused air to leak from the lungs and build up in the chest cavity. This build-up of air is what most likely pushed the heart out of place. According to the report, the man’s heart began to rotate to the left after doctors drained the air from his chest. After about 24 hours, his heart had returned to its proper location.
Additionally, the man suffered broken ribs and a ruptured spleen. The heart itself was not damaged; however, the rotation did obstruct the blood vessels and caused a drop in the man’s blood pressure.
Although finding a patient’s heart on the right side is uncommon, it is not completely unheard of. For example, if the right lung is removed during cancer treatment, it can create a space for the heart to move into. Also, certain birth defects can cause the heart to be abnormally located, and it’s certainly feasible to think that a traumatic injury could cause the heart to rotate on its fixed parts and end up on the wrong side of the chest.
We pray our fellow rider has a healthy recovery!
Ride Safe
Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys®