Treatment of Complicated Spontaneous Twin Anemia-Polycythemia Sequence via Fetoscopic Laser Ablation of the Vascular Communications

Fetal Diagn Ther. 2015;38(3):233-7. doi: 10.1159/000362271. Epub 2014 Aug 13.


Monochorionic diamniotic twins share a single placenta and have intertwin vascular communications that link the circulatory systems of the twins together. Twin anemia-polycythemia sequence (TAPS) is an atypical form of twin-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) caused by net transfer of blood from one fetus to the other and is characterized by large intertwin hemoglobin differences in the absence of oligohydramnios and polyhydramnios. This condition may develop spontaneously (sTAPS) or as a result of residual vascular communications after prior laser surgery. Because of the relatively low prevalence and lack of clinical awareness, the natural history of sTAPS is unclear and the antenatal treatment remains controversial. Case series of sTAPS have described expectant management with timed delivery, intrauterine blood transfusion, and fetoscopic laser treatment. Favorable outcomes have been described in cases of uncomplicated sTAPS that underwent conservative measures. However, we believe that there may be a subgroup of high-risk or complicated sTAPS patients that may benefit from definitive treatment afforded by fetoscopic laser therapy. We describe 3 complicated cases of sTAPS successfully treated with selective laser photocoagulation of communicating vessels. In 2 of the cases, placental pathology identified thrombosed fetal vessels of the polycythemic twin.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anemia / surgery*
  • Blood Transfusion, Intrauterine
  • Female
  • Fetofetal Transfusion / surgery*
  • Fetoscopy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Laser Therapy / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Polycythemia / surgery*
  • Pregnancy
  • Treatment Outcome