If the mother never had an ultrasound or the deformity wasn’t visible, the condition is immediately apparent at birth.
Infants who survive birth with this condition require intensive care. This may include incubation and use of a respirator. Sterile dressings may be used to cover the heart. Other supportive care, such as antibiotics to prevent infection, is also needed.
In some cases, surgeons can attempt to relocate the child’s heart inside their chest and close their thoracic cavity. This type of surgery has many challenges, especially if the child has several severe defects.
Surgery is most likely to be approached in stages. During the initial operation, the heart must be repositioned and the chest wall defect must be covered. Surgeons can create a temporary closure with synthetic material.
Additional surgeries may be needed to repair any other heart or abdominal wall defects. Subsequent surgeries to reconstruct the chest wall can be performed using bone and cartilage grafts.
Through it all, the heart must be protected.