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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1998 Jun;178(6):1359-67.

Doppler velocimetry determined redistribution of fetal blood flow: correlation with growth restriction in diamniotic monochorionic and dizygotic twins.

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Abbott Northwestern Hospital, and Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis 55407, USA.



Our purpose was to study fetal growth and blood flow distribution in diamniotic monochorionic compared with dizygotic (diamniotic dichorionic) twins by use of Doppler velocimetry of the umbilical artery and middle cerebral artery.


Study candidates were divided into group A, consisting of 33 pairs (66 fetuses) of diamniotic monochorionic twins, and group B, 50 pairs (100 fetuses) of diamniotic dichorionic twins. Diamniotic monochorionic placentation was confirmed by microscopic placental examination for group A. Diamniotic dichorionic placentation was ensured for group B by selecting only twins with different-sex pairs (dizygotic twins). Targeted ultrasonography with biometry was performed in each twin, and Doppler recordings of the umbilical artery and middle cerebral artery were obtained. Waveforms were analyzed and the systolic/diastolic ratio, the resistance index, and a measure of blood flow redistribution (brain-sparing effect), the cerebral/placental ratio, was calculated for each fetus. Growth status at birth was assessed by the number of small-for-gestational-age infants (< or = 10th percentile), low-birth-weight infants (< or = 25th percentile), and percent of growth discordance between twins. Intertwin differences were assessed by delta values (value of larger twin minus value of smaller twin).


Diamniotic monochorionic compared with dizygotic twins demonstrated a significantly greater probability of blood flow redistribution. For the study population as a whole, the brain-sparing effect was noted in 67% of small-for-gestational-age babies and only 7% of non-small-for-gestational-age infants (p < or = 0.001). For the diamniotic monochorionic pregnancies blood flow redistribution occurred in 6 of 10 small-for-gestational-age infants (60%) and 6 of 46 non-small-for-gestational-age infants (13%). In the diamniotic monochorionic group small-for-gestational-age compared with non-small-for-gestational-age infants were more likely to show blood flow redistribution, which was the result of significantly decreased resistance in the middle cerebral artery and significantly increased resistance in the umbilical artery. Small-for-gestational-age infants (< or = 10th percentile) occurred much less frequently in the dizygotic group. Two of two small-for-gestational-age infants in the dizygotic group showed blood flow redistribution. Although the extremes of birth weight were more common in the diamniotic monochorionic group, both groups had relatively large numbers of small babies with birth weights in the lower 25th percentile (50.0% for diamniotic monochorionic and 44.0% for dizygotic twins, not significant). However, 42.3% (11/26) of diamniotic monochorionic twins who were in the low-birth-weight group showed blood flow redistribution compared with only 3.3% (1/30) whose birth weights were > or = 25th percentile (p < or = 0.001). In the dizygotic twins 10% of lower-birth-weight infants redistributed blood flow compared with 1% in the higher-birth-weight group, a nonsignificant difference. Diamniotic monochorionic compared with dizygotic twins were delivered earlier (32.9 weeks vs 34.8 weeks, p < or = 0.001), were smaller (1832 gm vs 2304 gm, p < or = 0.001), showed higher birth weight discordance (29.8% vs 14%, p < or = 0.05), and had greater numbers (19.7% vs 2.3%, p < or = 0.01) of infants at < or = 10th percentile birth weight.


Diamniotic monochorionic twins from the lower-birth-weight groups more often show blood flow redistribution compared with dizygotic twins of similar low birth weights. Placental vascular connections and the attendant hemodynamic changes in the fetuses of diamniotic monochorionic twins probably account for this difference. Brain-sparing events occur commonly without clinical twin transfusion syndrome in this group. These findings have implications for management.

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