In utero percutaneous umbilical cord ligation in the management of complicated monochorionic multiple gestations

R. A. Quintero, R. Romero, H. Reich, L. Gonçalves, M. P. Johnson, C. Carreño, M. I. Evans

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The study was designed to report our experience with in utero percutaneous umbilical cord ligation for selective feticide in pre-viable, abnormal, monochorionic multiple gestations. The selection criteria prior to offering percutaneous umbilical cord ligation included normal anatomy in the other fetus(es), normal karyotype and polyhydramnios, or uterine contractions. The procedure was performed under combined endoscopic and sonographic guidance. Fifteen patients were referred for evaluation and possible treatment. Two patients were excluded because of misdiagnosis. The mean gestational age at the time of the procedure was 21 weeks (range 16-25 weeks). There were ten acardiac twins, one discordant twin with acrania, and two cases of twin-twin transfusion syndrome with a hydropic twin. Percutaneous umbilical cord ligation was accomplished in 11/13 (84%) cases. An average of 8.5 weeks (range 0-18.5 weeks) was gained after percutaneous umbilical cord ligation, and five of 11 patients delivered at or after 30 weeks. Seven of 11 patients undergoing ligation procedures had living children. Premature rupture of membranes occurred within 3 weeks in 4/13 (30%) of cases. In utero fetal demise remote from the procedure occurred in three ligated patients undergoing ligation, in two of which intraoperative bleeding occurred. One fetus with cystic fibrosis died in the newborn period. Percutaneous umbilical cord ligation is an evolving alternative technique for the management of abnormal monochorionic multiple gestations. The advantages of percutaneous umbilical cord ligation over other approaches include complete extravascular interruption of the blood flow in all vessels of the cord. This may prevent post-mortem feto-fetal hemorrhage or possible embolic phenomena that may result in death of the normal twin, as seen with intravascular techniques. Percutaneous umbilical cord ligation prior to spontaneous death of a co-twin may also avert the neurological and other complications that may occur in the surviving twin. Technological advances should decrease the observed complications and improve the success rate of the procedure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-22
Number of pages7
JournalUltrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Acardiac twin
  • Fetal therapy
  • Fetoscopy
  • Prenatal diagnosis
  • Twin reverse arterial perfusion syndrome
  • Twin-twin transfusion syndrome


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