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Medical Miracles: Cojoined Twin 3D Treatments

Conjoined Twins

Karly Steuck is a graduate of Monona Grove High School. She plans to get her CNA, Her interest in this topic comes from watching the movie " Gifted Hands" which is based off of the life of a surgeon named Ben Carson who operated on Conjoined Twins

3D Models Give Hope to Conjoined Twins

Medical Miracle

In healthy normal fetal development, when twins are born they are born as two separate human beings.  However, if you are conjoined, that is another story .  A conjoined twin is defined as a set of twins who are joined anatomically to each other at a minimum of one site, however it is common that conjoined twins share several sites on their bodies. If you are a conjoined twin, did you know that you are a phenomenon? There are fewer than one-thousand cases in the united states reported today.  

    If you are reading this and have a twin or know twins that go to your school, you're probably thinking that’s really cool, or  you're thinking how could they stand each other? The ability of  standing each other unlike a normal set of twins is the least of your problems, What are the problems with conjoined twins? As mentioned above these twins are joined anatomically, which means they share sections or a section of their bodies. They are forced to go everywhere with each other, and in some more severe cases depending on the site(s) they share one twin can be stronger than the other twin.  Conjoined twins are lucky to even survive, if death occurs the sex of the twins or twin is statistically proven to be male.

In the earliest known cases, if twins survived they made  a living as being part of circuses, since this was  a new sight, they were often considered to be freaks of nature, and therefore were hired to do an act.  The first surgical separation of conjoined twins occurred in the year 1869 by a surgeon, so until that point, if you were born together, you were stuck together.

If you want to learn more about the history and statistics of conjoined twins click on the link below

Significant Discovery

One of the most common beliefs about conjoined twins is  that they are stuck together for life. This is not true depending on each case of twins.  Conjoined Twins can undergo a separation surgery, if they are medically qualified.  Separation surgery is when conjoined twins are separated from each other by surgery. This procedure can last minutes to hours depending on the sites where the twins are joined. For example a set of twins who are joined at the chest, might take shorter time in surgery than twins who are joined at the head or spine.  Separation surgeries are very complicated and when conjoined twins were first discovered the idea of separation surgery wasn’t even considered.  Since it can be hard to  x-ray conjoined twins surgeons have started to use 3D Printing technology to aid in visualization and planning of some of the most complex separation cases. 3D models of the cases are created and analyzed in order to plan how to carry out the surgeries, this helps surgeons become more familiar with a game plan before the procedure actually happens.  For example, Dr. James Goodrich is a craniopagus neurosurgeon at Montefiore Hospital in New York.  Dr. James Goodrich was able to use 3D printing to solve one of the most complicated separation cases of two twin boys.  The uses of 3D models have greatly increased the success rate of separation surgeries because surgeons are able to  visualize and plan before going under the knife, and many believe that 3D printing is only the beginning when it comes to giving conjoined twins a higher quality of life.

If you would like to learn more about how Dr. James Goodrich helped these twin boys read the article below

Emerging Innovations

3D Printing has helped decrease the number of surgeries conjoined twins need in order to be fully separated, For example, twins who are born Craniopagus or conjoined at the head, had to undergo separation surgeries in stages, which means they were slowly separated from each other.  The staging of surgeries lead to higher costs, now that 3D printing has become available for surgeons to use, twins can be separated during one surgery instead of more than one. This causes less stress emotionally, and financially on the families of the twins, and also allows the surgeons to be able to help more twins at a faster rate. 3D Printing continues to develop and the possibilities continue to be bright  for twins who haven’t gone under yet.


If you want to learn how 3D Printing has helped two conjoined girls read their story in the link below




Social Impact


                                              Positive Effects            Negative Effects

Medical                         Not all cases are hard            Not all twins live             

Professional                        More experience for surgeons     Must inform parents of outcome of surgery

Ethical                                  Making the best choice                Hard choices if something goes wrong

Legal                                Legalized in 1864                   Surgery might not be necessary

Economical                      Profit for hospitals               Surgery is expensive for families 





                                                    Conjoined Twins After Surgery: Separated and a sucess

   This Youtube video tells the story of  Dr. Sanjay Gupta and his separation of two twin 13 month old twins. 

Pathways to Conjoined Twins

      If you want to learn more about Conjoined Twins check out these resources below!


. Learn about a set of  Haitian twins who were separated


 Check out these 40 images of Conjoined Twins  ( Warning Graphic)

                                       FOR THOSE WHO LIKE DOCUMENTARIES OR YOUTUBE VIDEOS

Check out the remarkable story of twins who have been together for 30 years and finally are going to be separated

What would the first day of school be like for Conjoined Twins? find out

Watch this National Geographic Documentary on Conjoined Twins to see multiple examples of twins and the joys and struggles they encounter


What do you think?

KEEP What makes Conjoined Twins different than other twins?
Nothing ( there the same): 0 votes (0%)
They Never fight: 0 votes (0%)
They are fused together while normal twins aren't: 1 votes (100%)
Total Votes: 1

Future Directions

My wishes for conjoined twins that there will be a way to determine if twins are conjoined early in the pregnancy and that we will  be able to do surgery than place the embryos back in the uterus to grow and develop normally.  I also hope that more advancements can be made in terms of imaging so that cases can become more than just separating twins but also ways to help twins succeed now that they are separated. I also hope that there can be more resources for conjoined twins so they can transition into normal living easier. 

The Twin's Perspective

What is it like living as conjoined twins?  Click on the links below to find out !

Life is hard as a Conjoined Twin but you can still have fun                Video:

Meet Abigail and Brittany Hensel two twins Joined for Life                Video :

Meet Isabel and Abby celebrating 10 years apart                              Video:

Parent Testimonies

              What is it like being a parent of Conjoined Twins??  Find out below 


Parents of Conjoined Twins speak out after successful operation                                    VIDEO:

Parent's Talk about diagnosis and separation                       VIDEO :

Single Mom one will survive one will not       VIDEO:

Glossary of Terms



Thoraco-omphalopagus Fused from the upper and lower chest 
Thoracopagus  Fused from the upper thorax to lower belly
Omphalopagus  Fused at the lower abdomen
Parasitic Twins Fused Asymmetrically one twin dependent on other for survival 
Craniopagus  Fused  at the skull but separate bodies  ( the most common)

 To see a visual of different types of Conjoined Twins click on the link below



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