ARS TECHNICA – Doctors in China are reporting a startling and unexplained spike in fetuses with situs inversus, a rare congenital condition in which the organs in the chest and abdomen are arranged in a mirror image of their normal positions.
In the first seven months of 2023, the rate of fetuses identified with the condition quadrupled compared with historic rates, according to a brief report appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine Thursday.
For the report, doctors from two big obstetric centers in the cities of Shanghai and Changsha combined their centers’ clinical records from January 2014 through July 2023.
The doctors found that from 2014 to 2022, the yearly total of situs inversus cases was typically about five to six per 10,000 pregnant [women] undergoing ultrasounds. But, in 2023, the rate jumped to nearly 24 cases per 10,000 ultrasound screenings.
Looking at the 2023 cases by month, the researchers noted that the surge in situs inversus began in April and continued to June before returning to background rates in July.
“The authors noted that there were no changes in the diagnostic criteria that might explain the ‘striking increase.'”
In all, there were 56 cases of situs inversus between January and July of 2023 among 23,746 pregnant [women] undergoing ultrasounds.
The ultrasounds diagnosing the condition were generally carried out between 20 and 24 weeks of gestation.
Without supporting evidence, the doctors speculate it could be tied to a surge in COVID-19 cases … READ MORE.
Situs inversus totalis (SIT)
Situs inversus totalis (SIT) is a rare congenital abnormality characterized by a mirror-image transposition of both the abdominal and the thoracic organs.
This is a global defect of situs orientation, as the failure to generate normal left-right asymmetry results in a spectrum of laterality disturbances. This condition might cause difficulties during diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.
Because of its rarity, practising doctors, eg, gastroenterologists, radiologists, and surgeons usually do not have much experience with these patients. Even a busy surgeon may expect to encounter this anomaly only once or twice in a lifetime.
– Situs Inversus Totalis: A Clinical Review, National Library of Medicine