Heterotaxy syndrome

Korean Circ J. 2011 May;41(5):227-32. doi: 10.4070/kcj.2011.41.5.227. Epub 2011 May 31.


Heterotaxy is defined as an abnormality where the internal thoraco-abdominal organs demonstrate abnormal arrangement across the left-right axis of the body. This broad term includes patients with a wide variety of very complex cardiac lesions. Patients with heterotaxy can be stratified into the subsets of asplenia syndrome and polysplenia syndrome, or the subsets of heterotaxy with isomerism of the right atrial appendages and heterotaxy with isomerism of the left atrial appendages. Treatment of patients with isomerism is determined by the nature and severity of the associated cardiac and extracardiac lesions. Most cardiac operations for patients with isomerism are palliative in nature, since normal anatomy is rarely achieved and mortality rates remain high for patients with heterotaxy syndrome. Patients with left isomerism in general have less severe cardiac malformations than those with right isomerism and, hence, more chance of biventricular repair. For almost all patients with right isomerism, and for many with left isomerism, biventricular repair will not be feasible, and all palliative protocols are then staging procedures prior to a Fontan-type repair. Recent advances in medical management, and improvements in surgical techniques have resulted in improved survival for these patients, and the surgical outcomes are comparable to those with Fontan circulation irrespective of the presence or absence of heterotaxy.

Keywords: Heterotaxy; Isomerism.