What is Acardia?
Acardia or Acardiac Fetus is a lethal disease of the fetus usually encountered in pregnancies with identical twins. Acardiac Fetus is very rare only occuring in approximately 1 in 34,000 pregnancies.
What are the symptoms of Acardia?
Common symptoms of Acardiac Fetus include the following:
- Heart failure
- Premature birth
- General swelling of the whole body, usually due to abnormal fluid retention in the tissues
What causes Acardia?
The exact cause of Acardia is not fully understood, but it could be one of two different causes. The first, is a defect of the chromosomes responsible for the development of cardiac tissues and the second is the arrested development of the cardiac system due to the affected twins circulatory reversal.
Since the more normal twin is doing all of the work to pump blood for both babies, it is at risk for heart failure because it is working twice as hard to support both
How is Acardia diagnosed?
Acardia is diagnosed via prenatal ultrasound.
What are the treatments for Acardia?
In about 50% of all cases, the outlook for the healthy twin is not a good one. There is a need for therapies that address the mortality rates for the twin that is viable.
The normal twin should be monitored closely by using serial high resolution sonography and Doppler blood flow studies. Delivery is usually recommended if the fetus’ health is compromised.
In some cases heart failure, which is a major cause of death for the normal twin, may be treated in utero. This may be very valuable in helping the fetus reach viability for birth.