Pathogenesis of acardiac twinning: Clues from an almost acardiac twin

Rita W. Driggers, K. J. Blakemore, C. Bird, K. E. Ackerman, G. M. Hutchins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Objective: To search for clues to the pathogenesis of acardiac twinning. Methods: We examined a case of monoamniotic twins in which twin A's only sonographic abnormality was a dilated, tortuous ductus venosus. Twin B also had this abnormality as well as multiple other anomalies that included enormous hydrops and a severely hypoplastic heart. Following termination of pregnancy, autopsy was performed. Results: Postmortem examination of the placenta confirmed monochorionic, monoamniotic placentation with two adjacent trivascular cords. Autopsy confirmed the sonographic findings of enormous hydrops in twin B with a severely malformed, almost nonexistent heart. In addition, the liver was small and was represented by a cyst-like structure with thin rims of congested parenchyma surrounding large vascular spaces. Conclusion: We believe the sequence of events in this case was early twin-to-twin transfusion resulting in a dysfunctional heart in twin B. This enabled a twin reversal arterial perfusion sequence with further deterioration of twin B's heart and extreme congestion of deoxygenated blood exiting the heart into the inferior vena cava and ductus venosus. This case supports the concept that circulatory reversal in the face of an initially functioning heart may lead to congestion, tissue hypoxia and secondary organ atrophy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-187
Number of pages3
JournalFetal Diagnosis and Therapy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 6 2002


  • Acardiac twinning
  • Monoamniotic twins
  • Monozygotic twins
  • Twin complications

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Embryology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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