Acardiac twin pregnancies part V: Why does an acardiac twin with renal tissue produce polyhydramnios?

Martin J. C. van Gemert, Peter G. J. Nikkels, Michael G. Ross, Jeroen P. H. M. van den Wijngaard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Acardiac twinning is a complication of monochorionic twin pregnancies. From literature reports, 30 of 41 relatively large acardiac twins with renal tissue produced polyhydramnios within their amniotic compartment. We aim to investigate the underlying mechanisms that cause excess amniotic fluid using an established model of fetal fluid dynamics. Methods: We assumed that acardiac onset is before 13 weeks, acardiacs with renal tissue have normal kidney function and produce urine flow from 11 weeks on, and acardiac urine production requires a pressure of half the pump twin's mean arterial pressure. We apply a resistance network with the pump twin's arterio-venous pressure as source, pump umbilical arteries, placenta, placental arterio-arterial (AA) anastomoses and acardiac resistances. Acardiac amniotic fluid dynamics excluded acardiac lung fluid secretion, swallowing and the relatively small intramembranous flow. Results: In small acardiacs with sufficient urine production, polyhydramnios will occur due to the lack of amniotic fluid resorption. Urine production is dependent upon having sufficient mean arterial pressure, which requires nearly a two-fold larger resistance within the acardiac as compared to the placental AA resistance. Subphysiologic arterial pressure may result in renal dysgenesis. Conclusion: Our findings suggest the potential for prediction of which clinical acardiac cases may or may not develop polyhydramnios based upon noninvasive assessments of renal tissue, blood flow and urine production. This information would be of great value in determining early obstetric interventions as opposed to conservative management. These findings may also contribute to an improved knowledge of the fascinating pathophysiology that surrounds acardiac twinning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)500-510
Number of pages11
JournalBirth defects research
Issue number6
Early online date2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • acardiac onset
  • acardiac twin with renal tissue
  • acardiac twinning
  • amniotic fluid dynamics
  • arterio-arterial anastomosis
  • computational model simulations
  • fetoplacental resistance network
  • intramembranous flow
  • polyhydramnios
  • urine production

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