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Heart scan curiosities 3

Posted Sep 12 2008 8:52am


Note the shape of the chest in this 64-year old man. The front of his chest (upper portion of scan) is concave. In other words, if you were looking at this man (shirtless, of course) face to face, his chest would bow inward, rather than the usual outward configuration. The official name for this is "pectus excavatum".





Compare this to the normal chest in the second image, in which the chest is convex. Face to face, the chest would bow slightly outward.















What does it matter? The pectus excavatum in and of itself has no importance, just a curiousity. (I personally find this surprising, given the fact that the heart actually appears squashed by the sternum, or chest wall.) However, it is commonly associated with a "floppy" mitral valve (also called mitral valve prolapse), a common congenital disorder of the mitral valve often accompanied by a slender build, loose joints, and even a nervous disposition. Occasionally, in its more severe forms, the aorta is also enlarged. (This man's aorta is not enlarged.)

So, while we can't actually visualize the mitral valve by a CT heart scan, we can surmise that he likely has a floppy mitral valve, is slender, is probably a nervous sort, and has long limbs with loose joints. He probably required braces as a child, since many people have a phenemenon of "crowded teeth". The roof of his mouth, or hard palate, probably unusually high up in the mouth. He probably has a "weak chin", meaning a less prominent protuberance of his chin. His fingers and toes are likely unusually long and slender.

It could mean that some attention and exploration of how floppy his mitral valve might be could be useful, e.g., an ultrasound or echocardiogram. He might even require oral antibiotics at the time of any oral or some gastrointestinal procedures, since floppy valve are more susceptible to blood infections when potentially "dirty" orifices are instrumented.

All that from a heart scan!

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