Dubai: Woman with heart on the right, liver on the left undergoes gallbladder surgery

Okunawa suffers from Situs Inversus Totalis, in which her organs are positioned abnormally

By SM Ayaz Zakir

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Published: Fri 22 Apr 2022, 5:56 PM

Last updated: Fri 22 Apr 2022, 10:32 PM

Patience Okoduwa successfully underwent a gallbladder surgery despite having a rare condition.

Okoduwa, a medical tourist from Lagos, Nigeria, said that she had been experiencing abdominal pain and several hospitals in her home country were unable to give her a diagnosis. She then flew to Dubai.

Initially, she went to Medeor Hospital, to confirm the presence of gallbladder stones, however, upon further inspection, doctors realised that she had a rare congenital condition called 'Situs Inversus Totalis'.

This condition causes the organs in the chest and the abdomen to be abnormally positioned.

Occurring in only 0.01 per cent of the population, this condition causes other health issues like congenital heart disorders, lung problems, sinusitis, etc.

An anomaly

“During the scan, I found transposition of the organs. The liver and gallbladder, normally located on the right side, were seen on the left side of the abdomen. The heart was located on the right side. The condition is called Situs Inversus with Dextrocardia,” said Dr Ahuja, specialist radiologist at Medeor Hospital, Dubai.

Upon learning about the diagnosis for the first time at Medeor Hospital, Okoduwa and her husband, Emmanuel Okoduwa, were amazed. “I have undergone three C-sections in the past. Over the years, I have visited a couple of big hospitals for gall bladder stones. I am surprised that nobody has been able to detect this till we came here,” said Okoduwa.

A modified approach

Her medical condition meant that doctors had to modify their approach to the surgery. According to Dr. Arindam Ghosh, Consultant Gastrointestinal Surgeon, and chief of the surgery department at Medeor Hospital, Dubai, detecting her condition before surgery has been vital in helping them plan the procedure.

Dr Ghosh said: “The surgeon’s non-dominant left hand would have to work as the main operating hand, a task that isn’t easy. The patient also had other complications like a hernia and severe adhesions in the whole abdomen that needed to be cleared."

“We performed the surgery laparoscopically using mirror-image keyholes and all the instruments used in the surgery were placed on the mirror-image side. Electrocautery was replaced with an advanced vessel sealing device to avoid complications. The surgery was completed in 2 ½ hours,” said Dr Ghosh, adding that this is the first patient with Situs Inversus Totalis he has treated in his career.

Okoduwa was discharged a day after her gall bladder surgery and has recovered well. “We are grateful to the doctors and the entire medical team. We appreciate the kindness shown to us throughout our visit,” said Emmanuel, a businessman in Nigeria. He added that this has inspired them to buy an apartment here, so they can call Dubai their second home.

Word of advice

People with Situs Inversus Totalis can usually lead normal lives. Many are unaware of the condition until it is detected through diagnostic tests for other ailments.

Dr Ghosh has some advice for such patients. He said: “Once a person is diagnosed with Situs Inversus Totalis, it is recommended that they carry a badge revealing their disorder. A badge would come in handy during a medical emergency as the doctors would be able to help them quickly.”


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