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Pediatr Radiol. 2011 Jun;41(6):694-701. doi: 10.1007/s00247-010-1921-2. Epub 2010 Dec 22.

MRI findings in multifetal pregnancies complicated by twin reversed arterial perfusion sequence (TRAP).

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  • 1Department of Radiology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, 3333 Burnet Ave., MLC 5031, Cincinnati, OH 45229-3039, USA.



Twin reversed arterial perfusion sequence (TRAP) is a rare complication in multifetal monochorionic pregnancies in which a normal "pump" twin provides circulation to an abnormal acardiac co-twin, resulting in high-output cardiac dysfunction in the pump twin.


To define fetal MRI findings of TRAP sequence.


Fetal MR images were retrospectively reviewed in 35 pregnancies complicated by TRAP sequence. Abnormalities of the pump twin, acardiac twin, umbilical cord, placenta and amniotic fluid were reviewed.


Acardiac twins were classified as: acephalus (51%), anceps (40%), amorphus (9%), acormus (0%). Common findings in acardiac twins include subcutaneous edema (77%), absent cardiac structures (86%), absent or abnormal thoracic cavity (100%), abnormal abdominal organs (100%), superior limbs absent (46%) or abnormal (51%), and inferior limbs present but abnormal (83%). There were pump twin findings of cardiac dysfunction in 43% and intracranial ischemic changes in 3%. Umbilical cord anomalies were present in 97%.


Acardiac twins present with a predictable pattern of malformation with poorly developed superior structures, more normally formed inferior structures and absent or rudimentary heart. Although usually absent, abnormal heart structures can be seen and do not exclude TRAP sequence. Pump twins are commonly normal with exception of findings of cardiac dysfunction and possible brain ischemia.

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