An Atlanta Attorney Discusses a Rare Case of a Twin Inside a Twin
At first glance, it was mistaken for a liver cyst but a small growth found inside a healthy fetus in the womb of a Columbian woman turned out to be a second fetus, according to the New York Times. After the woman gave birth, the twin, half-formed, was found inside the abdomen of the newborn. This type of birth – coined “fetus-in-fetu” – is considered very rare, but occurs when a fetus forms and grows inside another fetus.
Dr. Miguel Parra-Saavedra specializes in high-risk pregnancies in Baranquilla, Columbia and oversaw the birth. By utilizing color doppler and 3D/4D ultrasound imaging, he further examined the cyst and discovered a small fetus connected to the larger twin’s intestine by a separate umbilical cord.
At 37 weeks of pregnancy, the baby was delivered by cesarean section (C-section) in order to avoid organ damage caused by increased pressure from the internal twin. The smaller twin – which didn’t have a brain or heart – was later removed by laparoscopic surgery.
What is fetus-in-fetu?
Normally, twins are separated in the womb but fetus-in-fetu occurs when twins are only partially separated and the smaller fetus is encompassed by the larger one. In many cases, it’s misdiagnosed as a teratoma – a type of tumor composed of germ cells.
A British medical journal from 1808 first described the signs of this condition as a tumor in a healthy child, accompanied by vomiting. Researchers estimate that it occurs in about one in every 500,000 births and is commonly referred to as heteropagus or parasitic twinning – resulting in loss of nourishment from the larger twin.
Sometimes, fetus-in-fetu can go undetected for years and can be discovered in adults. In one case, a four-inch tumor discovered on the ovary of a 45-year-old woman living in Cyprus was found to have a partially formed face. The unborn twin was inside of the woman for 40 years before being surgically removed.
Atlanta law firm dedicated to representing families
Rare incidents such as this can occur in any pregnancy. That’s why it’s critical that birth doctors are prepared to expect the unexpected and be poised to intervene. The legal team at Tyrone Law Firm, PC applauds the actions taken by Dr. Parra-Saavedra and we hope to see increased awareness of rare cases of twinning.
If your health or the health of your child was compromised because medical professionals failed to identify a potential birth defect, don’t hesitate to contact us for a free consultation. We’re dedicated to representing families in Atlanta and throughout Georgia.