Atypical twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome: prevalence in a population undergoing fetoscopic laser ablation of communicating placental vessels

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The diagnosis of twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) usually relies the presence of polyhydramnios in one sac with concomitant oligohydramnios in the other sac in a monochorionic diamniotic twin pregnancy. However, TTTS does not always show a linear progression and may present with cardiac compromise or critically abnormal Doppler velocimetry in either fetus before fluid measurements meet the typically used cutoff.


The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of atypical presentations of TTTS in a population undergoing laser fetoscopy.

Study Design:

We performed a retrospective review of our database of TTTS laser fetoscopy from 2003 to the present. Our center is the regional referral center in the Pacific Northwest for minimally invasive treatment of complicated monochorionic twin pregnancies. Cases were labeled as “atypical” if fluid discordance did not meet formal TTTS criteria (oligohydramnios defined as maximum vertical pocket [MVP] <2 and polyhydramnios defined as MVP >8 before 20 weeks and >10 after 20 weeks). The rationale for consideration of laser fetoscopy was other evidence of severe TTTS such as significant cardiac compromise, evidence of twin anemia polycythemia sequence (TAPS), or persistent critically abnormal cord Dopplers.


Three hundred seventy-nine cases of fetoscopic laser ablation for TTTS and its variants were available for review. Sixteen cases were excluded for a triplet pregnancy, 4 due to septostomy prior to referral to our center, 3 for monoamniotic pregnancy, and 11 for previous laser fetoscopy. Three hundred forty-five cases remained for evaluation. Among these, 25 cases were identified as “atypical,” equaling 7.24% of our population. Eleven of these were for stage 3 recipient disease, 3 were for stage 4 recipient disease, 4 were for stage 3 both in recipient and donor, 4 were for stage 3 donor disease, and 3 were for spontaneous TAPS.


In TTTS, severity of fetal compromise does not consistently correlate with fluid abnormalities meeting established criteria. This may be especially true in rapidly progressing cases. Attempts at rigid diagnostic amniotic fluid criteria may underestimate the severity and incidence of TTTS. This underscores the importance of careful surveillance, including arterial and venous Doppler velocimetry, of all monochorionic pregnancies.

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