Parasitic conjoined twins, two cases, and their relation to limb morphogenesis



Reports of parasitic conjoined twins have appeared rarely in the scientific literature and only one study has included a detailed description of the parasitic extremities. We report here two specimens consisting for the most part of normal hosts with ectopic legs attached to the thorax (case 1, thoracoparasitus) or the abdomen (case 2, gastroparasitus). These two specimens are in agreement with several others reported in the literature in having no sign of vertebral columns. These specimens also exhibit a marked decrease in innervation (case 1) or complete absence of somatic nerves (case 2). This finding is in complete contradiction with the idea of the dependence of limb skeletal structure upon peripheral nerves. The hypothesis is presented that this type of parasitic twin may result from duplication of the Wolffian ridge.