Ectopic Pregnancy Surgery

Ectopic Pregnancy Surgery

What is an ectopic pregnancy?

An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that forms outside the uterus. This usually happens in a fallopian tube. So it’s often known as a tubal pregnancy. In rare cases, an ectopic pregnancy will occur in an ovary, in the cervix, or the belly.

What causes an ectopic pregnancy?

A fertilized egg usually moves down a fallopian tube and into the uterus. But the egg can get caught in the tube if the tube is blocked. This might be as a result of an infection or scar tissue. If the fertilized egg can't get to the uterus, it starts to develop in the tube.

Who is at risk for an ectopic pregnancy?

Ectopic pregnancy is usually common in women who:

  • Have had issues getting pregnant (infertility).
  • Have endometriosis. This is when uterine tissue grows in other parts of the pelvis.
  • Have a sexually transmitted disease. This can lead to infection and scarring in the pelvis.
  • Have had tubal surgery.
  • Use an IUD
  • Developed an ectopic pregnancy in the past.
  • Have multiple sex partners.
  • Smoke
  • Are older.

What are the symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy?

Women with an ectopic pregnancy may experience irregular bleeding and pelvic or abdominal pain. The pain is usually on one side. Symptoms usually appear six to eight weeks after the last normal menstrual period. If the ectopic pregnancy is not in the fallopian tube, symptoms may occur later. Typical symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy are:

  • Abdominal pain
  • No recent period
  • Vaginal bleeding not associated with menstrual period.

How is an ectopic pregnancy diagnosed?

Your doctor will check the level of the hormone HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) in your blood. Then, an ultrasound will be used to check the uterus for a fetus or other pregnancy tissue. In certain cases, your doctor will use laparoscopy to diagnose and treat an ectopic pregnancy. In this surgical procedure, a lighted tube is inserted into your abdomen to check inside the pelvis. It usually gives the most accurate diagnosis.

How is an ectopic pregnancy treated?

Ectopic pregnancy may be treated in different ways. This depends on if the fallopian tube has ruptured, how far along the pregnancy is, and your hormone levels. Treatments may include:

  • Allowing the ectopic pregnancy heal and the body absorb it on its own. This is only for some cases.
  • Using the medicine methotrexate to stop the pregnancy from developing further.
  • Using surgery (usually laparoscopy) to make a small incision in the fallopian tube. The doctor removes the pregnancy and sometimes the tube.

In rare cases, doctors must make a larger incision in the abdomen to remove the ectopic pregnancy or damaged fallopian tube.

Complications of an ectopic pregnancy

When the embryo implants in the fallopian tube, it does not have sufficient room to grow or enough blood flow to keep it healthy, so it dies.

The tube may start to release some of the tissues or bleed. Some embryos do keep growing and may become big enough to rupture the fallopian tube. This can lead to severe bleeding and shock.

When should I call the Doctor?

Don’t disregard symptoms of ectopic pregnancy. Call your doctor if you have any bleeding or pain in pregnancy.

DisclaimerThe information provided herein is for patient general knowledge only and should not be used during any medical emergency, diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Duplication for personal and commercial use must be authorized in writing by

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