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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Ectopic Pregnancy: Treatment & Monitoring
      Category : Health Centers > Pregnancy and Childbirth

Ectopic Pregnancy

Alternate Names : Pregnancy in the Fallopian Tube, Tubal Pregnancy, Extrauterine Pregnancy

Ectopic Pregnancy | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

What are the treatments for the condition?

Treating an ectopic pregnancy early can help prevent a rupture of the fallopian tubes and other serious side effects. Treatment options depend upon how soon the diagnosis is made, whether or not rupture has occurred, and the location of the ectopic pregnancy.

A woman with a very early ectopic pregnancy that has not ruptured may be given methotrexate through a vein in her arm. This medication destroys the pregnancy. The woman would then be monitored closely in the hospital through blood tests and hormone level readings to make sure the pregnancy has ended.

Laparoscopy may be used to diagnose and treat an ectopic pregnancy if there is no tubal rupture or emergency. By using tiny instruments to remove the pregnancy, a surgeon may be able to preserve the affected tube. However, the embryo cannot be implanted afterwards in the uterus to keep growing. This method requires a short overnight stay in the hospital.

A woman needs emergency treatment if an ectopic pregnancy has ruptured and she has signs of internal bleeding, such as shock, low blood pressure, and an enlarging, painful belly. An exploratory laparotomy, which involves an incision in the abdomen, is done right away. Her shock is treated with fluids given through a vein, blood transfusion, and medications to maintain blood pressure. Usually, blood clots have to be removed along with the affected fallopian tube.

What are the side effects of the treatments?

Surgery may cause bleeding, infection, and allergic reaction to anesthesia. Side effects of methotrexate include kidney failure, blood disorders, and nerve damage.

What happens after treatment for the condition?

How long a woman must be hospitalized depends on the treatment and the amount of blood loss. A woman should use birth control for at least three months after surgery to let her body recover and allow tissues to heal. She may wish to have a follow-up test to see if her fallopian tubes are open or blocked.

How is the condition monitored?

Between 10% to 20% of women treated for an ectopic pregnancy will have another ectopic pregnancy at a later date. If a woman who has had an ectopic pregnancy misses a period or notices symptoms of pregnancy, she should have a serum pregnancy test right away. If she is pregnant, she should get early prenatal care and have a pregnancy ultrasound done to check the embryo's location. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.

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Ectopic Pregnancy: Prevention & Expectations


Author: Eva Martin, MD
Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
Date Reviewed: 07/27/01

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