Not Found
Locations

Find information on medical topics, symptoms, drugs, procedures, news and more, written in everyday language.

Ectopic Pregnancy

By Antonette T. Dulay, MD

Ectopic pregnancy is attachment (implantation) of a fertilized egg in an abnormal location.

  • Women may have abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding.

  • Ultrasonography is done, mainly to determine the location of the fetus.

  • Usually, surgery is done to remove the fetus and placenta, but sometimes a single dose of methotrexate is used to end the ectopic pregnancy.

Normally, an egg is fertilized in the fallopian tube and becomes implanted in the uterus. However, if the tube is narrowed or blocked, the fertilized egg may never reach the uterus. Sometimes the fertilized egg then implants in tissues outside of the uterus, resulting in an ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancies usually develop in one of the fallopian tubes (as a tubal pregnancy) but may develop in other locations.

A fetus in an ectopic pregnancy sometimes survives for several weeks. However, because tissues outside the uterus cannot provide the necessary blood supply and support, ultimately the fetus does not survive. The structure containing the fetus typically ruptures after about 6 to 16 weeks, long before the fetus is viable. When an ectopic pregnancy ruptures, bleeding may be severe and even life threatening. The later the structure ruptures, the worse the blood loss, and the higher the risk of death.

One of 200 pregnancies is an ectopic pregnancy.

Risk factors for an ectopic pregnancy include

  • A disorder of the fallopian tubes

  • Previous pelvic inflammatory disease

  • A previous ectopic pregnancy

  • A previous surgical procedure such as an abortion or tubal ligation (a sterilization procedure)

  • Current use of an IUD

Ectopic Pregnancy: A Mislocated Pregnancy

Normally, an egg is fertilized in the fallopian tube and becomes implanted in the uterus. However, if the tube is narrowed or blocked, the egg may move slowly or become stuck. The fertilized egg may never reach the uterus, resulting in an ectopic pregnancy.

An ectopic pregnancy may be located in many different places, including a fallopian tube, an ovary, the cervix, and the abdomen.

Resources In This Article

Drugs Mentioned In This Article

  • Generic Name
    Select Brand Names
  • OTREXUP