It is one of the rare heart diseases in which the position of the heart is found in an abnormal manner. As the name suggests, the heart develops outside the chest in a growing fetus. This condition occurs when the rib cage in a developing fetus is incomplete thus resulting in the formation of the heart outside the body with or without the protection of bone, muscles and the skin.
The clinical study suggests that there are four main positions in which the heart can develop.
- In the majority (60%) cases, the heart is found immediately outside the chest.
- In some cases (15-30%), the heart develops in line with the belly.
- In a few cases (7-18%), the heart is found between the chest and the belly
- In the rare cases (< 3%), the heart develops in line with the neck.
The treatment method depends upon the severity of the condition in the developing fetus. Sometimes, the mother is advised to terminate the pregnancy since the survival chance is only 10% also, there are no such facilities to perform fetal surgeries. In other cases, the treatment begins immediately after the delivery to place the heart inside the thoracic cavity with a series of surgeries.