Ectopic pregnancy

A pregnancy that develops outside the uterus, most commonly in the fallopian tube, but sometimes in the ovary or in the abdominal cavity or cervix. As the pregnancy develops, it may damage surrounding tissue, causing serious bleeding, which is potentially life-threatening and requires emergency treatment. Ectopic pregnancy is more common in women who have had previous pelvic infections (see pelvic inflammatory disease) and with some types of IUD and progestogen-only oral contraceptives. Most ectopic pregnancies are discovered in the first 2 months, often before the woman realizes she is pregnant. Symptoms usually include severe pain in the lower abdomen and vaginal bleeding. Internal bleeding may cause symptoms of shock, such as pallor, sweating, and faintness. Diagnosis is made by a transvaginal ultrasound examination and can be confirmed by ectopic laparoscopy. If the diagnosis is made early, medical treatment using the drug methotrexate may be considered. In most cases, surgery, usually minimally invasive surgery, to remove the pregnancy is carried out. If blood loss is severe, blood transfusions are needed. An affected fallopian tube is removed if it cannot be repaired.


Online Medical Dictionary: Your essential reference to over 5000 medical terms.