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Placenta. 2001 May;22(5):383-91.

Twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome results from dynamic asymmetrical reduction in placental anastomoses: a hypothesis.

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Centre for Fetal Care, Department of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Imperial College School of Medicine at Queen Charlotte's, Hammersmith Hospital Site, Du Cane Road, London, UK.


Although placental vascular anastomoses between the fetoplacental circulations are ubiquitous in monochorionic twin pregnancies, the factors regulating their formation and maintenance are not understood. Increasing evidence implicates asymmetric anastomotic patterns in the aetiology of severe twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS). The authors propose that anastomoses between placental circulations in monochorionic twins occur in a random manner at the embryological stage of connection of embryonic and extra-embryonic circulations. Placental expansion is then associated with random disruption of anastomoses and regression of their associated villus districts. TTTS develops as discordant loss of anastomoses results in asymmetrical flow resistance. Pregnancies with fetal growth concordance but discordant nuchal translucency at 10-14 weeks are at increased risk of developing subsequent severe TTTS because these clinical features indicate significant pressure differentials in the presence of a placentoplacental circulation, consistent with the presence of numerous, asymmetric anastomoses. However, since the anastomotic pattern is dynamic in the first half of pregnancy this hypothesis predicts that it will not be possible to devise a clinical test at 12 weeks that will predict with certainty the outcome of monochorionic twin pregnancies in relation to TTTS because this depends on random subsequent events.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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