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Experience in the management of conjoined twins. BJS 2002; 89: 1188-1192.

Published: 29th November 2002

Authors: L. Spitz, E. M. Kiely

Background

Conjoined twins occur in approximately one in 200 000 live births. Their management is often extremely complex and experience with large numbers is restricted to a few centres worldwide.

Method

An analysis of 17 sets of symmetrical conjoined twins managed by a single team of surgeons over a 16‐year period was undertaken.

Results

Management could be divided into three groups. Those in group 1 (n = 5) had non‐operative management, owing to cardiac fusion or gross anatomical union, and all died. Those in group 2 (n = 7) underwent emergency separation, when one twin was dead or threatening the survival of the sibling or where there was a correctable life‐threatening associated anomaly (four of 14 survived). Twins in group 3 (n = 5) underwent elective separation, allowing time for detailed preoperative investigation and planning (eight of ten survived).

Conclusion

Accurate preoperative investigation, a team approach, previous experience, and meticulous operative and postoperative management contributed to the success rate achieved in this series. © 2002 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd

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