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The 411 on Kartagener's Syndrome

By HERWriter
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What is Kartagener's Syndrome

Kartagener's Syndrome is an inherited condition that affects the entire respiratory tract. The respiratory passages - the nose, sinuses, middle ear, eustachian tubes (the passages that link the throat with the ears), throat, and the trachea, bronchi, and bronchioles - are lined with hair-like cilia. In a healthy individual, these cilia sweep dust, smoke and other particles out of the lungs. They also help clear mucus. For those with Kartagener's Syndrome, these cilia either do not work properly or not at all, resulting in recurring ear and lung infections.

Since the ventricles of the brain and the reproductive system also have cilia, Kartagener's Syndrome patients may also experience headaches and fertility difficulties.

Kartagener's Syndrome is known by several other names including: primary ciliary dyskinesia, immotile cilia Syndrome, Afzelius' Syndrome, Kartagener's Triad, Zivert's Syndrome, Siewert's Syndrome, dextrocardiobronchiectasis-sinusitis syndrome and Ziver-Kartagener Triad.

Manes Kartagener (a physician from Switzerland) was the one who "first recognized this clinical triad as a distinct congenital syndrome in 1933" (http://emedicine.medscape.com) although Dr. Siewert was the first to describe the clinical relationship between chronic sinusitis, male infertility and situs inversus - where a person's organs are located symmetrically opposite to their normal position (eg: the heart is found on the right side instead of the left) in the early 1900s.

"Situs inversus is what sets Kartagener Syndrome apart from primary ciliary dyskinesia. Complete situs inversus involves reversal of both the abdominal and thoracic organs so that they form a mirror image of normal. In partial situs inversus, the thoracic organs may be reversed while the abdominal organs are normally positioned, or vice versa" (www.healthline.com). Complete situs inversus happens approximately one in every 10,000 adults, and of those only 20 percent are diagnosed with Kartagener's Syndrome.

It occurs approximately one in every 32,000 live births in the United States.

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EmpowHER Guest

It is MOST IMPORTANT to emphasise that, in contradiction with this article, grommets (or, 'tubes in the ears') have generally been found to be ineffective in PCD/Kartegeners patients. Misguided repeat insertions of grommets in PCD patients (based on the eardrum presenting identiacally to a patient who simply has glue ear, which is solveable with grommets) may exacerbate existing hearing loss problems. For further information please feel free to contact the UK charity: PCD Family Support Group at www.pcdsupport.org.uk

May 5, 2010 - 5:55am
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

Thank you for the clarification.

May 5, 2010 - 6:17am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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