Fetal cardiovascular alterations in twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome
Twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) is the consequence of vascular anastomoses of the shared placenta of monochorionic twin pregnancies. Both circulating inter-twin blood flow and vasoactive mediators imbalance cause hypovolemia in the donor and hypervolemia in the recipient fetus. If left untreated, TTTS has a high perinatal mortality rate and adverse long-term outcomes mainly cardiovascular and neurological.
The recipient has cardiovascular changes including atrioventricular valve regurgitation, diastolic dysfunction and pulmonary stenosis/atresia. The maladaptive response to vascular changes determines a constant decreased blood flow in the donor that permanently modifies the arterial structure leading to postnatal alterations in the vascular system. Fetoscopic LASER surgery of placental vascular anastomoses may disrupt the underlying pathophysiology and improves cardiovascular function with normalization of systolic and diastolic function within weeks after treatment.
The impact of cardiovascular changes is relevant for the safety of the management of a TTTS case. The improvement of the perinatal survival after intrauterine surgery leads to viable infants with the longer-term sequelae. Therefore accurate quantification of cardiovascular involvement is essential for clinicians for pregnancy management but also for patient counseling about the potential treatment options the outcome.