Ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy in which the conceptus implants and grows in a
structure other than the uterus, most commonly the fallopian tube. This is believed
to occur once in every 200 pregnancies. Risk factors include:
– History of pelvic infection will increase risk by 10-fold,
– Previous history of ectopic pregnancy,
– History of tubal surgery including sterilization and
– History of IUD use.
Ectopic pregnancies can be life-threatening events because there is not adequate
nourishment and structure in the fallopian tube or other structure to support the pregnancy
correctly. The fallopian tube becomes distended and can rupture causing internal
bleeding which can be rapid and fatal. Therefore, it is important to know the symptoms
and signs of an ectopic pregnancy. Although the most common symptoms may not be
present in an ectopic pregnancy, these symptoms are:
– Lower abdominal pain in early pregnancy or
– Vaginal bleeding or sporting in early pregnancy.
Your obstetrician/gynecologist will become familiar with your medical history and any risk
factors for ectopic pregnancy tat you may have. Ultrasound, hormone levels obtained from
serum and physical examinations are used in diagnosing ectopic pregnancy. If an ectopic
pregnancy is known or suspected, your physician may recommend surgery for more
definitive diagnosis or treatment. Under some circumstances, ectopic pregnancies may
be treated with medication.
Surgery may involve a dilation and curettage of the uterus, but laparoscopy is the most
common process used to visualize the fallopian tubes where ectopic pregnancy is
usually seen. The ectopic pregnancy has no chance of surviving; however, every
attempt is made to preserve the patient’s fertility. In some cases, your physician
may prescribe a medication called methotrexate to treat the ectopic pregnancy. In
order to stay safe in high-risk situations, stay in contact with your physician.