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Circulation. 2004 Nov 9;110(19):3043-8. Epub 2004 Nov 1.

Early intertwin differences in myocardial performance during the twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome.

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  • 1Fetal Cardiology Unit, Cardiology Division, Department of Pediatrics, St. Justine Hospital, Université de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.



In the twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS), pressure rather than volume overload is increasingly considered as a key factor in the pathogenesis of the cardiomyopathy of the recipient twin. If this is the case, cardiac dysfunction should be among the first signs observed with TTTS. The objective of this study was to determine whether intertwin differences in myocardial function are modified early in the course of TTTS and whether they can help to differentiate this condition from intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR).


Eight variables were analyzed on the first fetal echocardiography on 21 pairs of twins with TTTS and 11 with IUGR. No difference was found between the 2 groups for the cardiothoracic ratio, pulsatility indices in the umbilical and middle cerebral arteries, and peak velocity of the middle cerebral artery. Significant difference was found for ventricular septal thickness, but with no association with the conditions under study. With TTTS, left ventricular shortening fraction was consistently greater in the donor twins, and myocardial performance indices (MPIs) were elevated in the recipient twins. This increase in MPI was caused by a lengthening of the isovolumic periods compared with those of the donor twin: left ventricular and right ventricular isovolumic periods 0.105+/-0.047 and 0.097+/-0.026 seconds, respectively, for the recipient twins versus 0.0561+/-0.46 and 0.065+/-0.03 seconds, respectively, for the donor twins (P<0.001). These changes in the isovolumic periods were mainly due to significant prolongation of isovolumic relaxation times. A change in left ventricular MPI > or =0.09 combined with a change in right ventricular MPI > or =0.05 would identify a TTTS with a sensitivity of 75% and a false-positive rate of 9%.


The observed diastolic function impairment goes along with the pressure-overload pathogenic concept proposed in TTTS. Assessment of intertwin difference in MPI is a valuable tool for early differential diagnosis between TTTS and isolated IUGR.

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