The consequences of monochorionic placentation

Baillieres Clin Obstet Gynaecol. 1998 Mar;12(1):37-51. doi: 10.1016/s0950-3552(98)80038-2.


Monochorionic (MC) placentation occurs in two-thirds of monozygous twins and approximately 0.3% of all spontaneous conceptions. Vascular anastomoses within the placenta allow intertwin transfusion to occur, which is in most cases a normal event. However, imbalance in this flow may lead to the clinical sequelae observed, with acute, chronic or reverse intertwin transfusion. Acute transfusion describes the events following the death of one of an MC twin pair in utero, with an approximately 1 in 4 chance of demise or neurological damage in the co-twin. Chronic intertwin transfusion, otherwise termed feto-fetal transfusion syndrome, arises following the gradual flux of blood from one twin (the donor) to its sibling fetus (the recipient). The ensuing polyhydramnios places the pregnancy at risk of preterm amniorrhexis and/or labour, notwithstanding the specific sequelae seen in these fetuses following chronic in utero insult. Reverse transfusion describes the most bizarre form of intertwin transfusion: acardiac twinning. Retrograde perfusion of one of the twins with deoxygenated blood leads to the formation of a non-viable acardiac parasite and a 'pump twin' struggling to maintain the cardiac output required to perfuse both twins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chorion*
  • Female
  • Fetal Diseases* / etiology
  • Fetal Diseases* / therapy
  • Fetofetal Transfusion / etiology
  • Fetofetal Transfusion / therapy
  • Humans
  • Placenta / abnormalities*
  • Placenta / blood supply
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Multiple*
  • Risk Factors
  • Twins, Monozygotic*