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Obstet Gynecol. 1999 Sep;94(3):409-14.

Prognostic markers in twin pregnancies with an acardiac fetus.

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Department of Pediatrics, Sainte-Justine Hospital, University of Montreal, Canada.



With twin reversed arterial perfusion sequence, the normal cotwin is at risk of heart failure. The purpose of this study was to identify ultrasonographic variables that can help predict prognosis. We hypothesized that variables reflecting the hyperdynamic circulatory condition of the normal fetus and the changes in circulatory impedance in the acardiac mass would correlate with final outcome.


Ten twin pregnancies with this condition were identified. Follow-up was available for nine. Adverse outcome was defined as death, cardiac failure, or delivery before 30 weeks' gestation for reasons related to the presence of the mass. The following data were collected on the normal fetus: cardiothoracic ratio and left ventricular shortening fraction; and on the mass: maximal length, presence and size of cysts, and presence of a rudimentary heart. The pulsatility index (PI) of the umbilical arteries (UA) of both twins was measured.


Four fetuses died, two in utero (22 weeks) and two after cesarean (26 and 31 weeks) for advanced cardiac failure. In the five other cases, the outcome was favorable. The cardiothoracic ratio and presence of cysts or of a rudimentary heart did not correlate with outcome. A PI in the mass' UA significantly lower than that of the normal twin (ratio of 0.71 compared with 1.04 for good outcome, P<.05), an elevated shortening fraction in the second trimester, and a rapid growth rate of the mass were associated with a poor prognosis.


In pregnancies with twin reversed arterial perfusion sequence, final outcome and treatment decisions can be determined based on hemodynamic criteria.

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