Tubal Pregnancy (Ectopic Pregnancy)
An ectopic pregnancy, also called a tubal pregnancy, occurs when a fertilized egg fails to make its full journey into the uterus and, instead, implants itself in the fallopian tube and begins to grow there. and begins to grow there. The fallopian tube cannot support a pregnancy. As the developing fetus grows, it stretches and then tears the fallopian tube, causing pain. At the same time, the placenta cannot develop properly, and the uterine lining cells are deprived of the pregnancy hormones they need. These cells break down, causing bleeding. Thus, if you think you are pregnant, pain and bleeding are warning signals of an ectopic pregnancy and you should see your doctor immediately.
Ectopic pregnancy can now be diagnosed very early, before it tears the fallopian tube, by measuring the levels of a pregnancy hormone called “HCG” in your blood. If HCG levels are elevated, the pregnancy should be visible on a sonogram. If it is not, an ectopic pregnancy is probable.
An early ectopic pregnancy can be treated with a drug, methotrexate, which destroys the pregnancy tissue in the fallopian tube.
In some cases,laparoscopic surgery may be needed to remove the pregnancy tissue from the fallopian tube.
- American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Ectopic Pregnancy: A Guide for Patients. Patient Information Series 2006. http://www.asrm.org/Patients/patientbooklets/ectopicpregnancy.pdf.
- Parker WH. A Gynecologist’s Second Opinion. (c)2003; A Plume Book; Published by the Penguin Group, New York, NY.