Background: Twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) is a serious complication of 10-15% of twin or triplet pregnancies in which multiple fetuses share a single placenta. Communicating placental vessels allow one fetus (the donor) to pump blood to the other (the recipient). Mortality rates without intervention are high, approaching 100% in some series, with fetal deaths usually due to cardiac failure. Surgical correction using laser photocoagulation of communicating placental vessels was developed in the 1980s and refined in the 1990s. Since it was introduced in Victoria in 2006, laser surgery has been performed in approximately 120 pregnancies. Survival of one or more fetuses following laser surgery is currently > 90%, however the neurodevelopmental outcomes for survivors remain incompletely understood. Prior to laser therapy, at least one in five survivors of TTTS had serious adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes (usually cerebral palsy). Current estimates of neurological impairment among survivors following laser surgery vary from 4 to 31% and long-term follow-up data are limited. Methods: This paper describes the methodology for a retrospective cohort study in which children aged 24 months and over (corrected for prematurity), who were treated with laser placental photocoagulation for TTTS at Monash Health in Victoria, Australia, will undergo comprehensive neurodevelopmental assessment by a multidisciplinary team. Evaluation will include parental completion of pre-assessment questionnaires of social and behavioural development, a standardised medical assessment by a developmental paediatrician or paediatric neurologist, and age-appropriate cognitive and academic, speech and fine and gross motor assessments by psychologists, speech and occupational therapists or physiotherapists. Assessments will be undertaken at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute/Royal Children's Hospital, at Monash Health or at another mutually agreed location. Results will be recorded in a secure online database which will facilitate future related research. Discussion: This will be the first study to report and evaluate neurodevelopmental outcomes following laser surgery for twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome in Victoria, and will inform clinical practice regarding follow-up of children at risk of adverse outcomes.
- Laser placental photocoagulation
- Neurodevelopmental outcomes
- Twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome