Navigating Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome

Navigating Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome

Newly pregnant parents Victoria and Dick were shocked to discover they were having identical twins, and shock turned to despair at 16 weeks when they learnt the twins suffered from a rare condition called Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS).

The condition affects identical twins who share a placenta, and experience an imbalance in blood flow. TTTS affects approximately 10 per cent (one in ten) of identical twins that share a single placenta. Survival of the babies is limited if left untreated.

Victoria said receiving the news was devastating.

“We’d already had a rollercoaster ride with our pregnancy so far,” Victoria said.

“To hit another hurdle so early on was pretty rough,” she said.

What complicated matters further for Victoria was that her placenta is anterior – on the front of her belly – blocking the usual access location for surgery.

Mother Mothers’ Director Maternal Fetal Medicine Dr Glenn Gardner said his team worked together to determine if surgery was possible.

“With the placenta located in such a difficult place, we had to find a possible entry site which didn’t interfere with the babies or key blood vessels,” Dr Gardner said.

“We were able to successfully perform fetal laser surgery which involves passing a small camera into the amniotic sac of the recipient twin. A laser is then used to block the connecting vessels on the surface of the placenta to stop the flow of blood from one twin to the other,” he said.

Victoria and Dick are hopeful for the future.

“We’ve still got a long road ahead but we’re more optimistic than we have ever been,” Victoria said.

“We’ll be forever grateful to the team here,” said Dick.

Mater has been performing TTTS surgery since 2002. More information on Twin to Twin Transfusion Surgery can be found at http://brochures.mater.org.au/brochures/mater-mothers-hospital/twin-to-twin-transfusion-syndrome

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