Cardiac dysfunction in twin-twin transfusion syndrome: a prospective, longitudinal study

Obstet Gynecol. 1998 Oct;92(4 Pt 1):557-62. doi: 10.1016/s0029-7844(98)00220-8.


Objective: To use serial echocardiography to evaluate prospectively the cardiac dysfunction in twin-twin transfusion syndrome and determine its clinical course and outcome.

Methods: Twin pregnancies presenting in the second trimester with sonographic evidence of twin-twin transfusion syndrome were managed with therapeutic reduction amniocenteses. Gestational age at diagnosis and delivery, number of amniocenteses performed, volume of amniotic fluid withdrawn, placentation, birth weight, hemoglobin at delivery, and perinatal outcome were recorded. Serial fetal echocardiography was carried out in a single tertiary center. Echocardiographic assessments included cardiac anatomy, chamber size, cardiothoracic ratio, interventricular septal thickness, ventricular systolic function, and the presence and severity of atrioventricular valve regurgitation. Postnatal echocardiograms were obtained on the surviving twins.

Results: Twelve cases of twin-twin transfusion syndrome were evaluated with serial echocardiography. Evidence of cardiac dysfunction was present prenatally in 10 recipient twins. All of the donor twins had normal fetal echocardiographic assessments. The most common abnormalities detected prenatally in recipient twins were decreased ventricular function, tricuspid regurgitation, and cardiac chamber enlargement. A deterioration of cardiac function was observed in seven recipient twins with increasing gestational age. Four of the eight surviving recipient twins had persistent postnatal echocardiographic abnormalities on follow-up examinations after the first 28 days of life.

Conclusion: Prenatal cardiac dysfunction is common in recipient twins and can be transient, progressive, or persistent beyond the neonatal period.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Fetofetal Transfusion / complications*
  • Heart Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Heart Diseases / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal*