Sometimes. Successful management usually involves several medical and surgical specialists. Sophisticated imaging techniques and other tests can help sort out the anatomy and physiology of both twins. The decision to attempt separation or not can bring up difficult ethical questions. These questions are usually discussed at length between the parents, the medical team, and often clergy and medical ethicists.
In some cases, it’s possible to separate conjoined twins. The procedure to separate twins always takes extensive planning by a team of highly experienced surgeons.
After conjoined twins are born, they are grouped into one of three categories:
- No separation: If separation would pose life-threatening risks to the twins or result in extreme disabilities, surgical separation would only be attempted after consideration of all quality-of-life issues.
- Immediate separation: Sometimes emergency surgical separation is required to save the life of one and/or both twins.
- Delayed separation: When the twins are stable from a health standpoint, your medical team may delay separation surgery. This gives the twins time to grow and develop — and it increases their chance of survival. Many healthcare providers feel that surgical separation should take place when conjoined twins are 9 to 12 months old. This way, they can be separated before the condition takes a psychological toll. Twins who experience delayed separation have a higher survival rate (80%) over twins who need immediate separation.