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February 1959

Ectopia Cordis in a Twin

Author Affiliations

New York
From the Surgical and Laboratory Divisions, the Montefiore Hospital.

AMA Arch Surg. 1959;78(2):197-202. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1959.04320020019004

Among the rarest, and at times the most spectacular, of congenital anomalies, ectopia cordis varies widely in its anatomical manifestations. The earliest report is apparently that of Niels Stensen in 1671, describing a cardiac monster with the heart and other organs protruding from the chest.30 The unusual spectacle presented by an exposed heart beating on the chest wall in the unique setting provided by an apparently normal, probably identical, twin, prompted us to prepare a documentary film, showing the twins shortly after birth,* the surgical attempt to cover the heart, and the autopsy findings.† Approximately 150 cases of ectopia cordis have been reported, and the literature has been adequately reviewed by Greig, in 19267; Roth, in 193923; Blatt and Zeldes, in 19421; Byron, in 19483; Friedlieb and McDonald, in 1950,6 and Major, in 1953.17

Report of a Case  The patient, the elder of

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