Twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome

Alternative Names

TTTS; Fetal transfusion syndrome

Definition of Twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome

Twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) is a rare condition that occurs only in identical twins while they are in the womb.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

TTTS occurs when blood moves from one twin to the other. The twin that loses the blood is called the donor twin. The twin that receives the blood is called the recipient twin.

Symptoms

The donor twin is usually born smaller than the other twin, usually with paleness, anemia, and dehydration.

Signs and tests

This condition is usually diagnosed by ultrasound during pregnancy.

Treatment

Treatment may require repeated amniocentesis during pregnancy. Fetal laser surgery may be done to interrupt the flow of blood from one twin to the other.

Expectations (prognosis)

If the twin-to-twin transfusion is mild, full recovery is expected for both babies. However, severe cases may result in the death of a twin.

Review

Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Redmond, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 11/1/2009

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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