Prediction of post-laser fetal death in selective growth restriction complicating twin-twin transfusion syndrome using standardized definitions

Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2021 Nov;58(5):738-743. doi: 10.1002/uog.23519. Epub 2021 Oct 9.


Objective: Selective fetal growth restriction (sFGR) complicating twin-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) is associated with a 3-6-fold increased risk of fetal demise after fetoscopic laser surgery (FLS). Identifying these patients is challenging due to varying definitions of sFGR used in the literature. The objective of this study was to determine the association of three currently used definitions for sFGR with demise of the smaller twin, typically the donor, following FLS for TTTS.

Methods: This was a retrospective cohort study of monochorionic diamniotic twin pregnancies undergoing FLS for TTTS between January 2015 and December 2018. Classification of the cohort as sFGR or non-sFGR was performed using three different definitions: (1) estimated fetal weight (EFW) of one twin < 10th centile and intertwin EFW discordance > 25%, according to the International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology (ISUOG) (Definition A); (2) EFW of one twin < 3rd centile, according to the solitary criterion for sFGR reported in a Delphi consensus (Definition B); and (3) presence of at least two of four of the following criteria: EFW of one twin < 10th centile, abdominal circumference of one twin < 10th centile, intertwin EFW discordance of ≥ 25% and umbilical artery pulsatility index of the smaller twin > 95th centile, according to the contributory criteria for sFGR in monochorionic diamniotic twin pregnancies reported in the Delphi consensus (Definition C). Pearson's χ2 and univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed to assess the association of classification as sFGR according to the different definitions with fetal demise within 48 h after FLS.

Results: A total of 124 pregnancies underwent FLS for TTTS during the study period. Of these, 46/124 (37.1%) were identified as having sFGR according to the ISUOG criteria (Definition A), 57/124 (46.0%) based on EFW < 3rd centile (Definition B) and 70/124 (56.5%) according to the Delphi contributory criteria (Definition C). There were no differences in maternal body mass index, recipient twin amniotic fluid volume, gestational age (GA) at intervention or GA at delivery between sFGR and non-sFGR cases for any of the three definitions. There were also no differences in the rates of postprocedure recipient demise or Doppler abnormalities in the recipient. Regardless of the definition used, sFGR cases showed a significantly higher rate of postprocedure donor twin demise compared with that in non-sFGR cases (Definition A: 28.3% vs 3.8%, P < 0.01; Definition B: 22.8% vs 4.5%, P = 0.02; Definition C: 22.9% vs 0%, P < 0.01). For all of the sFGR definitions, the rate of Stage-III TTTS was increased in sFGR compared to non-sFGR cases (Definition A: 65.2% vs 35.9%, P ≤ 0.01; Definition B: 59.6% vs 35.8%, P = 0.04; Definition C: 62.9% vs 25.9%, P < 0.01). All cases of donor demise met the criteria for sFGR according to Definition C. Classification as sFGR according to Definition C was associated with a significantly higher rate of post-FLS donor demise compared to Definitions A and B (χ2 , 15.32; P < 0.01). Logistic regression analysis demonstrated that sFGR cases had an increased risk of donor demise (Definition A: odds ratio (OR), 4.97 (95% CI, 1.77-13.94), P < 0.01; Definition B: OR, 4.39 (95% CI, 1.36-14.15), P = 0.01) and that staging of TTTS was also predictive of demise (OR, 2.26 (95% CI, 1.14-4.47), P = 0.02). After adjusting for GA at intervention and stage of TTTS, the results were similar (Definition A: OR, 6.48 (95% CI, 2.11-24.56), P = 0.002; Definition B: OR, 4.16 (95% CI, 1.35-15.74), P = 0.02).

Conclusions: The rate of fetal demise following FLS for TTTS is increased in the presence of sFGR. Improving diagnosis of sFGR should improve counseling and may affect management. The Delphi method of defining sFGR based on the presence of at least two of four contributory criteria had the highest predictive value for donor demise following FLS for TTTS. © 2020 International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Keywords: monochorionic diamniotic; placental laser ablation; selective fetal growth restriction; twin-twin transfusion syndrome.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Delphi Technique
  • Diseases in Twins / embryology
  • Diseases in Twins / mortality*
  • Diseases in Twins / surgery
  • Female
  • Fetal Death / etiology*
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / etiology
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / mortality*
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / surgery
  • Fetal Weight
  • Fetofetal Transfusion / complications
  • Fetofetal Transfusion / mortality*
  • Fetofetal Transfusion / surgery
  • Fetoscopy / mortality*
  • Fetus / blood supply
  • Fetus / embryology
  • Fetus / physiopathology
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Twin
  • Pulsatile Flow
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Umbilical Arteries / embryology
  • Waist Circumference