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Ectopic Pregnancy


An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants and grows outside of the uterus. Because it is outside of the uterus, an ectopic pregnancy cannot grow as it should and it must be treated. Almost all ectopic pregnancies occur in a fallopian tube. Rarely, it will attach to an ovary or another organ in the abdomen. As the pregnancy grows, it can cause the tube to rupture (burst). If this occurs, it can cause major internal bleeding. This can be life threatening and needs to be treated with surgery. One might be especially at risk for ectopic pregnancy if there is a history of ectopic pregnancy, tubal surgeries, sexually transmitted diseases or pelvic inflammatory diseases, infertility, and endometriosis. The most common symptoms of ectopic pregnancy include abnormal vaginal bleeding, pelvic or abdominal pain, shoulder pain, dizziness or fainting. To diagnose ectopic pregnancy you may need to have serial pregnancy hormone tests or pelvic ultrasounds. If ectopic pregnancy detected before rupture, it could be treated medically in many cases. The most common drug used to treat ectopic pregnancy is methotrexate. It also often is used to treat cancer. This drug stops cells from growing, which ends the pregnancy. The ectopic pregnancy then is absorbed by the body. If medical treatment fails or the tube is already ruptured, surgical management is necessary, which is possible via laparoscopy in most cases.


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