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Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2002 May;19(5):449-53.

Transient hydropic signs in the donor fetus after fetoscopic laser coagulation in severe twin-twin transfusion syndrome: incidence and clinical relevance.

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Fetal Medicine Unit and Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Hospital Universitari Materno-Infantil Vall d'Hebron, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain.



To evaluate the incidence, characteristics, and impact on perinatal outcome of the development of hydropic signs in the donor fetus after laser coagulation for severe twin-twin transfusion syndrome in the second trimester.


Forty cases of second-trimester severe twin-twin transfusion underwent fetoscopic laser coagulation of placental anastomoses and were followed up with serial ultrasound up to 14 days after therapy. Ultrasound scans were performed just before, and on days 1, 3, 5 and 14 after therapy, and fetuses were monitored for the presence of hydropic signs (skin edema, pleural effusion, ascites and pericardial effusion). Response to therapy and perinatal outcome in terms of neonatal survival were recorded for all cases.


Four recipients (10%) and three donors (7.5%) died over the first 72 h after therapy. During the study period, two recipients (5.5%) developed frank hydrops fetalis, and eventually died in utero. Ten donors (27.0%) developed one or more hydropic signs. In nine (90%), signs were mild or moderate and transient (mean, 3.2 days), while in one case hydrops worsened and the fetus eventually died. No donors with transient hydrops died in utero, and two died postnatally due to extreme prematurity. Gestational age at procedure and deepest amniotic fluid vertical pocket were similar between hydropic and non-hydropic donors. Discrepancy in estimated fetal weight at procedure was significantly lower in donors developing hydrops (9.6 (SD, 6.4) vs. 17.8 (14.4)%,P = 0.018). In pregnancies with hydropic donors, gestational age at delivery (33.1 (3.4) vs. 29.7 (3.5) weeks,P = 0.015) and birth weight for recipient (2392 (423) vs. 1631 (576) g, P < 0.001) and donor (1908 (774) vs. 1281 (583) g,P = 0.021) were significantly higher. The development of transient hydrops had no influence on neonatal survival at 28 days nor on the rate of clinical resolution of intertwin transfusion.


Transient hydropic signs may develop in a proportion of donor fetuses after laser coagulation for severe twin-twin transfusion syndrome. This phenomenon is normally not associated with a poor prognosis, and possibly indicates an hemodynamic adaptation response following interruption of the transfusion process.

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