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Ectopic Pregnancy

(Tubal Pregnancy)

 

Definition

An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that occurs outside of the uterus. Most ectopic pregnancies occur within a fallopian tube. Other, less common locations may include the cervix, an ovary, or the abdominal cavity. This type of pregnancy cannot survive. Only the uterus can support the growth of a fetus and its placenta.

Ectopic Pregnancy

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Causes    TOP

Many ectopic pregnancies occur because the fallopian tube is not functioning normally.

 

Risk Factors    TOP

Ectopic pregnancies are more common in women over 35 years old and those who are non-Caucasian. Other factors that may increase your chance of ectopic pregnancy include:

 

Symptoms    TOP

Ectopic pregnancy may cause:

  • Missed or abnormal menstrual period
  • Abdominal pain
  • Spotty vaginal bleeding
  • Pain in the shoulder or neck due to irritation of the breathing muscle by blood from a rupture ectopic pregnancy
  • Fainting
 

Diagnosis    TOP

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be also be done.

Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with:

  • Pregnancy test
  • Pelvic exam
  • Blood tests

Images may be taken of your uterus and fallopian tubes. This can be done with a transvaginal ultrasound.

 

Treatment    TOP

Treatment options include:

Medications

If the ectopic pregnancy is small and has not ruptured (burst), a medication that prevents further growth of the ectopic pregnancy may be advised.

Surgery

Surgery may be needed, especially if the ectopic pregnancy has ruptured or if it is not in the fallopian tube. During the surgery, the pregnancy will be removed.

If the pregnancy is in the fallopian tube, the doctor may be able to repair the tube. In severe cases, the fallopian tube may need to be removed.

 

Prevention    TOP

To help reduce your chance of an ectopic pregnancy:

  • Maintain safe sexual practices to avoid sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) , which can damage to the fallopian tubes and ovaries.
  • Get early diagnosis and treatment of STDs.
RESOURCES:

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
http://familydoctor.org

American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
http://www.acog.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
http://www.sogc.org

Women's Health Matters
http://www.womenshealthmatters.ca

REFERENCES:

Ectopic pregnancy. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115772/Ectopic-pregnancy. Updated February 9, 2016. Accessed September 29, 2016.

Ectopic pregnancy. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated January 2014. Accessed June 7, 2016.

Ectopic pregnancy. Planned Parenthood website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed June 7, 2016.

4/22/2011 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115772/Ectopic-pregnancy: Creanga AA, Shapiro-Mendoza CK, Bish CL, Zane S, Berg CJ, Callaghan WM. Trends in ectopic pregnancy mortality in the United States: 1980-2007. Obstet Gynecol. 2011;117(4):837-843.



Last reviewed June 2016 by Marcie Sidman, MD
Last Updated: 6/17/2014

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