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Contempo Updates
March 12, 2003

Conjoined Twins

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Paediatric Surgery, Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, London, England.


Contempo Updates Section Editor: Sarah Pressman Lovinger, MD, Fishbein Fellow.

JAMA. 2003;289(10):1307-1310. doi:10.1001/jama.289.10.1307

Conjoined twins have been viewed with fascination since antiquity. Interest has ranged from suspicion and fear of the birth being an omen of impending disaster to exhibitionism and more recently as a subject of intense media interest.

The earliest example of conjoined twins is a 17-cm marble statuette portraying parapagus twins, "the double goddess," dating from the sixth millennium BC. The statue of sisters of Catathoyuk is housed in the Anatolian Civilisation Museum in Ankara, Turkey.1 Another early example is a stone carving of pygopagus twins dated to 80 BC discovered in Fiesole and housed in the San Marco Museum in Florence, Italy. The earliest attempt at separation of conjoined twins took place in Kappadokia, Armenia, in AD 970. When 1 of the male ischiopagus twins died at the age of 30 years, an attempt was made to save the surviving twin by separating him from his dead brother, but he died 3 days later.1

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