Many challenges are present regarding conjoined twin separation including whether twins share vital organs, what type of reconstructive surgery is needed when separation is a success, and whether twins are healthy enough to survive surgery, states Mayo Clinic. Where twins are joined plays a large role in whether separation is a possibility, as some conjoined twins share vital physical structures.
In some cases, separation is not possible, according to Mayo Clinic. In this type of case, comfort care in the form of nutrition and fluids, human touch and pain relief is given. Most often, twins are conjoined at the chest, buttocks or pelvic area. Typically conjoined twins are stillborn or pass away shortly after being born. Women who are pregnant with conjoined twins are monitored closely throughout pregnancy, and a C-section birth is planned, typically two to four weeks before the delivery date.
In the event that one twin dies and the other does not, an emergency surgery is often needed, as this causes life-threatening complications for the surviving twin, explains Mayo Clinic. Most often, separation is an elective procedure that occurs two to four months after birth. Technological advances, as well as advances in anesthesia and critical care, improve survival rates for conjoined twins who undergo surgical separation.