What Is Ectopic Pregnancy?
In an ectopic pregnancy the fetus develops outside the uterus. Known as a tubal pregnancy when the fertilized egg develops in the fallopian tube, in rare cases it may be attached to an ovary, in the cervix, and sometimes the abdomen.
A rare condition affecting only two percent of pregnancies, the usual result of ectopic pregnancy is death of the embryo. This is because the fertilized egg in the fallopian tube cannot receive a sufficient supply of blood. This results in a miscarriage as the tube expels the tissues. However, some embryos continue growing and can burst through the fallopian tube, causing severe bleeding and sending the mother into shock. Ectopic pregnancy is blamed for nine percent of all deaths related to pregnancy in the U.S.
Factors related to developing an ectopic pregnancy include sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), use of an intrauterine device (IUD), and issues with infertility. It is uncommon, but women who undergo tubal sterilization may still develop a tubal pregnancy.
The mother with an ectopic pregnancy may exhibit symptoms of irregular bleeding, or pain in the pelvis or abdomen. To verify the condition, the doctor may order an ultrasound, blood test or a laparoscopy, inserting a lighted tube into the abdomen.
If an ectopic pregnancy ruptures, it is an immediate medical emergency. Treatments for ectopic pregnancy include allowing the body to absorb the pregnancy, medication or surgery.