Right atrial isomerism or left atrial isomerism is frequently diagnosed as situs ambiguous without further discrimination of the specific morbid anatomy. Thirty six cases of right atrial isomerism and seven cases of left atrial isomerism were collected from the records and pathological museum at the National Taiwan University Hospital. There was a necropsy report for 18 cases. In all patients one or more of the following conditions was met: (a) isomeric bronchial anatomy, (b) echocardiographic and angiocardiographic evidence of isomerism, and (c) surgical or necropsy evidence of abnormal atrial anatomy. An anomalous pulmonary venous connection was present in 55% of patients with right atrial isomerism; in left atrial isomerism one case (14%) had a partial anomalous pulmonary venous connection. Forty per cent of cases of anomalous pulmonary venous connection with right atrial isomerism had obstruction. Six (86%) of seven cases with left atrial isomerism had an ambiguous biventricular atrioventricular connection. In contrast, univentricular atrioventricular connection (26 of 36, 72%) was significantly more common in right atrial isomerism. A common atrioventricular valve was the most frequent mode of connection in both forms. Two discrete atrioventricular valves were significantly more common in left atrial isomerism. Atrioventricular valve regurgitation was detected in 14 cases. Double outlet right ventricle was the most common type of ventriculoarterial connection. The most commonly cited causes of death after either palliative or definitive operation were undetected anomalous pulmonary venous connection, pulmonary venous stricture, and uncorrected atrioventricular valve or aortic regurgitation complicated by abnormal coagulation. Although the prognosis is poor, successful operation depends on knowledge of the precise anatomical arrangement associated with atrial isomerism.
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