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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Situs inversus

Other Names for this Disease
  • Situs inversus viscerum
  • SIV
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Your Question

My husband has situs inversus. Is the brain turned around or otherwise affected in individuals with this condition?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

What is situs inversus?

Situs inversus is a condition in which the internal organs of the abdomen (stomach) and thorax (chest) lie in mirror image of their normal body position. It can occur alone, without any other anomalies, or it can be  a part of a syndrome with various other defects. Situs inversus has been inherited in different ways in different families. Autosomal dominant, autosomal recessive, and X-linked inheritance have been reported. Treatment, when needed, is symptomatic and supportive.[1]
Last updated: 7/19/2010

What are the features of situs inversus?

In isolated situs inversus, there is a complete mirror image transposition of the thoracic (chest) and abdominal organs with preservation of the anterior-posterior (front-back) symmetry.[1] 
Last updated: 7/19/2010

What other symptoms or conditions may be associated with situs inversus?

Dextrocardia can occur with situs inversus. Dextrocardia means that the heart lies on the right side of the body, and the apex (tip) of the heart points to the right instead of the left. Situs inversus can also occur in association with syndromes such as Kartagener syndrome or primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD). There may be incomplete transposition of thoracic or abdominal organs, as well as additional anomalies such as congenital heart disease, polysplenia (more than one spleen), asplenia (absent spleen), annular (ring-shaped) pancreas, horseshoe kidney, and diaphragmatic hernia.[1]
Last updated: 7/19/2010

Are the brains of individuals with situs inversus turned around or otherwise affected by the disease?

Findings from several articles support the concept that brain abnormalities (specifically asymmetry) may be found in individuals who have situs inversus.[2][3][4][5] At least one study found evidence which supported the concept that a reversal of more commonly found intracranial anatomy may occur in situs inversus totalis.[3] 
You can find articles relevant to this topic through PubMed, a searchable database of biomedical journal articles. Although not all of the articles are available for free online, most articles listed in PubMed have a summary available. To obtain the full article, contact a medical/university library or your local library for interlibrary loan. You can also order articles online through the publisher’s Web site. Using "situs inversus AND brain abnormalities" as your search term should help you locate articles. Use the advanced search feature to narrow your search results. Click here to view a search.

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) Web site has a page for locating libraries in your area that can provide direct access to these journals (print or online). The Web page also describes how you can get these articles through interlibrary loan and Loansome Doc (an NLM document-ordering service). You can access this page at the following link You can also contact the NLM toll-free at 888-346-3656 to locate libraries in your area.

Last updated: 7/19/2010