Heterotaxy Syndrome and Intestinal Rotation Abnormalities

Pediatrics. 2018 Aug;142(2):e20174267. doi: 10.1542/peds.2017-4267.


Background: Infants with heterotaxy syndrome (HS) have abnormal lateralization of organs along the right-left body axis. Intestinal rotation abnormalities (IRAs) are a potential source of morbidity and mortality. For this study, our objective was to prospectively observe a cohort of infants with HS and determine the incidence and natural history of IRA.

Methods: Infants ≤6 months of age with HS were enrolled in this prospective observational study. Exclusion criteria were other congenital abnormalities that necessitated abdominal surgery. HS was defined as any arrangement of organs that was not situs solitus or situs inversus along with associated congenital heart disease. The investigation for IRA was at the discretion of each participating center.

Results: Infants were recruited from January 2012 to December 2016. Thirty-eight infants from 7 institutions were included; 22 infants had right isomerism and 16 infants had left isomerism. Twenty-nine infants (76%) were evaluated for IRAs; 21 of 29 evaluations (72%) were abnormal. Eight infants were investigated because of symptoms, and 21 infants were evaluated routinely. The median age at symptom presentation was 46 days (range: 5-171 days). Seven infants had a Ladd procedure; 4 were prophylactic, with 3 as part of a combined procedure, and 3 were emergent. No child suffered acute midgut volvulus over a median follow-up of 1.6 years (range: 0.06-4.93 years).

Conclusions: IRAs are common in infants with HS. Infants with symptoms presented by 6 months of age. There was no failure of expectant management resulting in midgut volvulus during a median follow-up of 1.6 years.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heterotaxy Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Heterotaxy Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intestinal Volvulus / diagnosis*
  • Intestinal Volvulus / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Rotation / adverse effects