An ectopic pregnancy is an abnormal pregnancy that occurs (grows) outside the uterus (womb). It accounts for about 1% of all pregnancies and remains the leading cause of maternal death in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Genital infections associated with fallopian tube infection such as Chlamydia, gonorrhoea and pelvic inflammatory disease increase the risk of Ectopic pregnancy. The other causes are surgery in the past, birth defects, and in vitro fertilization (IVF). Most causes of ectopic pregnancy occur in the fallopian tube (and the other sites are abdomen, ovary or cervix). This happens when the embryo stops in the fallopian tube and starts growing.
Up to 50% of women with ectopic pregnancy are asymptomatic (have no revealing signs). Sometimes the signs and symptoms are non specific or vague. Patients with ectopic pregnancy may present with history of missing menstrual period, symptoms of pregnancy, lower abdomen pain, vaginal bleeding, painful intercourse and positive pregnancy test. As it progresses, she will experience sharp pains in the lower abdomen, shoulder tip pains, dizziness and feeling faint from internal bleeding.
Untreated ectopic pregnancy may rupture, causing massive internal bleeding and lead to death.
An ectopic pregnancy should be considered in any woman with abdominal pain or vaginal bleeding who has a positive pregnancy test. Ultra sound scans and blood tests will confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment is managed in the hospital. It may be managed conservatively with medical treatment or surgical removal depending upon how the ectopic presents itself.
Hetero tropic pregnancy is the co-existence of intra-uterine pregnancy (pregnancy in womb) and an ectopic pregnancy. The incidence of this occurring is rare.
The finding of a pregnancy in the uterus almost always excludes the possibility of ectopic pregnancy.