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Motorcycle accident causes man's heart to rotate in his chest

Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Tuesday, May 20, 2014, 7:54 PM - A motorcycle accident in Italy was so violent it caused a man's heart to shift to the right side of his chest. Despite the severity of the accident the man survived, according to a recent medical report.

Doctors discovered the 48 year-old man's heart was in the wrong place when they tried to listen for a heartbeat.

A subsequent X-ray and CT scan revealed it had shifted 90 degrees to the right, according to a May 7 report in the New England Journal of Medicine.

While it's reasonable to assume the force of the accident is what thrust the patient's heart out of the way, experts say the migration more likely occurred over several minutes or possibly an hour.

Doctors discovered that a lung injury caused air to seep into the man's chest, forcing the heart into the unusual position.

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After the air was drained from the chest it returned to its normal position within 24 hours.

Dr. Gregory Fontana of the Lenox Hill hospital in New York City told Live Science the case was an "interesting anatomical finding", adding he was surprised the man survived.

Miraculously, the patient's heart wasn't injured -- but he did suffer from a few broken ribs and a ruptured spleen.

Visit the New England Journal of Science to view the complete report and X-ray images. 

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