Research ArticlePregnancy

Noninvasive high-intensity focused ultrasound treatment of twin-twin transfusion syndrome: A preliminary in vivo study

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Science Translational Medicine  13 Jul 2016:
Vol. 8, Issue 347, pp. 347ra95
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aaf2135

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Splitting the babies

Twin-twin transfusion syndrome is a complication of some twin pregnancies, where abnormal connections between the twins’ placental blood vessels result in unequal sharing of blood flow, with potentially lethal consequences. Although it is possible to separate the twins’ vasculature using fetoscopic laser occlusion of the connecting blood vessels, it is an invasive treatment with a high risk of complications. Shaw et al. used a sheep model of pregnancy to demonstrate the feasibility and relative safety of using high-intensity focused ultrasound to ablate blood flow through individual placental vessels. The authors used only healthy pregnant sheep, and the procedure still required surgical intervention to reach the uterus, but this approach may eventually offer a safer treatment alternative for human patients.

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