Conjoined twins

Also known as: conjoined twinning

What are conjoined twins?

The rare situation where two identical twin fetuses are connected to one another by their skin and internal organs, is known as conjoined twins or conjoined twinning. This can lead to a number of complications that vary based on the nature and severity of how the twins are joined.


What causes conjoined twins?

It has been suggested that the origin of conjoined twins is that the mother’s fertilized egg only splits partially as it starts to grow.


What are the sign/ symptoms of conjoined twins?

Signs and symptoms vary widely depending on how much and where the twins are conjoined (many are stillborn and only about a third survive one day). For example, one of the most common types is where the two twins are connected together from the upper chest to the lower chest. These twins may share a heart and perhaps liver and part of the digestive system.


What are conjoined twins care options?

Where possible, twins are surgically separated. However, this is frequently a delicate, risky, difficult and life- threatening operation, and a good outcome is not guaranteed. If the surgery is successful, the twins typically require substantial rehabilitation afterward in order to live a healthy life.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 3/23/2018 2:06:08 PM

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Dr. David Drossner, a pediatric cardiologist with The Heart Program at Nicklaus Children's Hospital, discusses how congenital heart disease (CHD) is identifying prenatally.


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