Transabdominal Versus Transcervical and Transvaginal Multifetal Pregnancy Reduction: International Collaborative Experience of More Than One Thousand Cases

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Two major approaches for multifetal pregnancy reduction have been developed over the past several years: transabdominal potassium chloride by injection and pelvic procedures by either transcervical aspiration or transvaginal potassium chloride injection or by an automated spring-loaded puncture device. The purpose of this study was to create the largest database from among the world's largest centers to assess possible differences in efficacy and complication rates by transabdominal or transcervical or multifetal pregnancy reduction.


Data on over 1000 completed pregnancies that underwent multifetal pregnancy reduction by both methods from major centers with among the highest worldwide experience were combined. Transabdominal cases were divided temporally (1986 through 1991 and 1991 through 1993).


Transabdominal multifetal pregnancy reduction was successfully performed on 846 patients and transcervical or transvaginal on 238 patients. Transcervical or transvaginal reduction is performed earlier and starts and finishes with fewer embryos. In 12.6% of cases transcervical or transvaginal reduction left a singleton as opposed to 4.4% for transabdominal reduction. Pregnancy losses (up to 24 weeks) were observed in 13.1% of transcervical or transvaginal cases and in 16.2% of transabdominal cases early in the series and 8.8% of late transabdominal cases. Transcervical or transvaginal reduction may be safer very early in gestation and transabdominal safer later in the first trimester. Premature deliveries were comparable, with only about 5% delivered between 25 and 28 weeks. The smaller starting numbers for transcervical and transvaginal reduction may explain a slightly higher term delivery rate. The transabdominal route tends to reduce the fundal embryos and the transcervical and transvaginal the lower ones. The significance of this is not clear.


(1) Multifetal pregnancy reduction by either method is a relatively safe and efficient method for improving outcome in multifetal pregnancies. (2) More than 84% are delivered at >33 weeks. (3) The experience and preference of the operator are probably the key determinants for an individual patient. (4) An inverse relationship of starting and finishing number to loss rates and gestational age at delivery suggests that there still is a cost of iatrogenic multifetal pregnancies, even if multifetal pregnancy reduction can be successfully performed. (AM J OBSTET GYNECOL 1994;170:902-9.)

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