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Conjoined Twin Separation: Review of 30-Year Case Experience and Lessons Learned

Mark S Shafarenko, Ronald M Zuker
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 2022 May 17

BACKGROUND: Conjoined twinning is a rare medical phenomenon, and numerous challenges remain with respect to surgical separation and reconstruction. The purpose of this study is to present a detailed discussion of the authors' institutional experience with eight conjoined twin separations over the past three decades, focusing on challenges and lessons gleaned from these cases.

METHODS: The records of all patients who underwent conjoined twin separation at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, from 1984 to 2018 were retrospectively reviewed.

RESULTS: Eight sets of conjoined twins were analyzed. Half of the sets [n = 4 (50 percent)] were female. There were four sets (50 percent) of ischiopagus twins, three sets (37.5 percent) of omphalopagus twins, and one set (12.5 percent) of craniopagus twins. The median age at separation was 6.75 months. The mean durations of intensive care unit and hospital stay were 14.1 ± 12.9 days and 4.9 ± 4.8 months, respectively. Mean length of follow-up was 6.7 ± 4.4 years. Three deaths occurred in our series, with an overall survival rate of 81 percent. Two sets of twins experienced expander-related complications such as infection and bowel perforation. Three twins required reoperation because of flap necrosis or dehiscence after separation.

CONCLUSIONS: The authors' results highlight the unique nature of each operation and the great ingenuity required in managing the particular considerations of each case and also adhering to a systematic approach of evaluation and planning. A number of novel strategies were used at the authors' center and have now become commonplace. The lessons learned from such procedures may improve care for future generations of patients.


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