Ectopic pregnancy, also known as eccyesis or tubal pregnancy, is a complication of pregnancy in which the embryo attaches outside the uterus. Signs and symptoms classically include abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding. Less than 50 percent of women, however, have both these symptoms. The pain may be described as sharp, dull, or crampy. Pain may also spread to the shoulder if bleeding into the abdomen has occurred. Severe bleeding may result in a fast heart rate, fainting, or shock. very rare exceptions the fetus is unable to survive
The signs and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy typically occur six to eight weeks after the last normal menstrual period, but they may occur later if the ectopic pregnancy is not located in the Fallopian tube. Other symptoms of pregnancy (for example, nausea and breast discomfort, etc.) may also be present in ectopic pregnancy. Weakness, dizziness, and a sense of passing out upon standing can (also termed near-syncope) be signs of serious internal bleeding and low blood pressure from a ruptured ectopic pregnancy and require immediate medical attention. Unfortunately, some women with a bleeding ectopic pregnancy do not recognize they have symptoms of ectopic pregnancy. Their diagnosis is delayed until the woman shows signs of shock (for example, low blood pressure, weak and rapid pulse, pale skin and confusion) and often is brought to an emergency department. This situation is a medical emergency.
If the doctor suspects that the fallopian tube has ruptured, emergency surgery is necessary to stop the bleeding. In some cases, the fallopian tube and ovary may be damaged and will have to be removed.
If the fallopian tube has not ruptured and the pregnancy has not progressed very far, laparoscopic surgery may be all that is needed to remove the embryo and repair the damage. A laparoscope is a thin, flexible instrument inserted through small incisions in the abdomen. During this surgery, a tiny incision is made in the fallopian tube and the embryo is removed, preserving the fallopian tube’s integrity.
In some cases, medication may be used to stop the growth of pregnancy tissue. This treatment option may be appropriate if the tube is not ruptured and the pregnancy has not progressed very far.
After medical treatment for an ectopic pregnancy, you will usually have to have additional blood tests to make sure that the entire tubal pregnancy was removed. The blood tests detect the hCG level, the hormone that is produced during pregnancy.