Tubal Ectopic Pregnancy
Normally, after fertilisation, the egg becomes a zygote and develops in the ovary for a certain period before migrating from the ovaries to the uterus through the fallopian tube. In the uterus, the zygote gets implanted in the uterine walls and develops into a full-grown baby gradually.
An ectopic pregnancy is one that grows outside the uterus. An ectopic pregnancy can be life threatening because as the pregnancy gets bigger inside the tube, it can burst (rupture) causing severe pain and internal bleeding.
Approximately 2 out of 100 pregnancies turn out to be ectopic.
The following conditions might increase the chances:
- History of ectopic pregnancy
- History of pelvic surgery
- History of pelvic inflammatory disease
- Failed tubal ligation
- Reversal of tubal ligation
- IVF pregnancy
- Sexually transmitted disease
In most cases, ectopic pregnancy develops in the initial few weeks of pregnancy only. At times the women may not even know that she is pregnant by the time she is diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy. The Symptoms of ectopic pregnancy may include:
- Pain in your lower abdomen. This may develop suddenly or may come gradually. It may be on one side only
- Vaginal bleeding. You may have some spotting or bleeding
- Pain in the tip of your shoulder. This pain is experienced if the tube starts to burst and is a suggestion that condition is getting worst. You should seek urgent medical advice if you experience this
- Severe abdominal pain /collapse- if the tube ruptures suddenly
The diagnosis can be made based on clinical examination. Pelvic examination, ultrasound findings and blood tests confirming levels of pregnancy hormone HCG.
It can sometime take few days to reach to the diagnosis as presentation can be varied. You may need to attend hospital for serial HCG (pregnancy hormone) levels and ultrasound scan to make a diagnosis.
The pregnancy cannot be continued, and all options will be discussed with you to end the pregnancy. Depending at the point of time when the pregnancy is diagnosed, treatment can consist of medication or surgery. In the initial stages of implantation prior to the stage of tubal rupture, medications can be given to inhibit the growth of the zygote which then gets absorbed gradually. In cases which have progressed further, a laparoscopic procedure (keyhole surgery) may be required to remove the ectopic mass. If the fallopian tube is damaged, then the doctor might have to remove the fallopian tubes.
Future after an ectopic pregnancy
There are fair chances that the affected female will have normal subsequent pregnancies. However, it is advisable to consult a doctor before planning for next pregnancy.
There’s no definite preventive step for ectopic pregnancy. Practicing safe sex, avoiding smoking and alcohol, leading a healthy lifestyle and undergoing regular gynaecological checkup can help in reducing the risk.
Connect with Dr. Deepika Aggarwal, Consultant – Obstetrics & Gynaecology at the CK Birla Hospital in Gurgaon to learn more about the condition and treatment options. Book your appointment today!