Professor Christopher Lees at Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital, Imperial College, London is investigating a new type of treatment for TTTS (twin to twin transfusion syndrome) babies in the womb involving a powerful form of ultrasound. 

TTTS occurs in about 10-15% of identical twins who share a placenta. Blood vessels are no longer shared equally, which means the donor twin has a decreased blood volume. This leads to slower than normal growth and a poor urinary output causing little to no amniotic fluid. 

The larger twin (the recipient) becomes overloaded with blood. This puts a strain on the baby’s hearts and causes them to have too much amniotic fluid. If left untreated, 90% of TTTS babies will die. 

Currently the most popular treatment is laser ablation, where the blood vessels shared in the placenta are blocked, equalising the amount each baby receives.  As laser ablation is a surgery, it is invasive and can lead to serious complications. 

To avoid this, Professor Lees is looking into a new form of treatment – a powerful form of ultrasound. As it does not involve surgery, the theory is that the ultrasound treatment could be safer than laser therapy.  
Professor Lees hopes this means babies could be treated earlier in pregnancy and hopefully this will improve their chances of surviving and avoiding preventable harm long-term.