During a pregnancy, egg and sperm meet after which the fertilization takes place in the fallopian tube. The fertilized egg moves to the uterus after 4-5 days and attaches itself there and continues to grow for the next nine months. If the fertilized egg gets implanted in the fallopian tube or anywhere else in the abdomen, it leads to ectopic pregnancy which requires immediate attention.
What Causes Ectopic Pregnancy?
The exact cause of ectopic pregnancy is not always clear. However, it could be due to:
- inflammation and scarring of the fallopian tubes from a previous medical condition, infection, or surgery
- hormonal factors
- genetic abnormalities
- birth defects
- medical conditions that affect the shape and condition of the fallopian tubes and reproductive organs
What are the SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS of Ectopic Pregnancy?
Nausea and breast soreness are common symptoms in both ectopic and uterine pregnancies. The following symptoms are more common in an ectopic pregnancy and can indicate a medical emergency:
- sharp waves of pain in the abdomen, pelvis, shoulder, or neck
- severe pain that occurs on one side of the abdomen
- light to heavy vaginal spotting or bleeding
- dizziness or fainting
- rectal pressure
How is Ectopic Pregnancy Diagnosed?
It is diagnosed through Transvaginal Ultrasound which involves inserting a special wand-like instrument into the vagina to see if the gestational sac is present in the uterus.
A blood test may be used to determine your levels of hCG and progesterone. These are hormones that are present during pregnancy. If these hormone levels start to decrease or stay the same over the course of a few days and a gestational sac isn’t present in an ultrasound, the pregnancy is likely ectopic.
If a patient is having severe symptoms, such as significant pain or bleeding, there may not be enough time to complete all these steps. The fallopian tube could rupture in extreme cases, causing severe internal bleeding. An emergency surgery is performed to provide immediate treatment.
How is Laparoscopic Treatment of Ectopic Pregnancy Done?
For early ectopic pregnancies, the levels of HCG are low and if the fallopian tube has not suffered any damage, a shot of methotrexate is injected to prevent cell growth and to end the pregnancy without causing any damage.
In cases where HCG levels are high, symptoms are severe, fallopian tubes are damaged or drug therapy does not work, surgery is the next option.
Laparoscopic surgery is preferred by surgeons as it requires minimal incision which means less damage and faster recovery. A small camera is inserted through a small incision to see their work. Through the procedure they remove the embryo and repair any internal damage. In cases where the damage or bleeding is severe, a regular surgical procedure might be required and sometimes the fallopian tubes might even be removed.
After the surgery, the doctors monitors HCG levels to ensure everything returns back to normal and if required, they even give a dose of methotrexate. You can return to your routine after a few days but ensure that you don’t exert yourself too much for some time.
You can still deliver a healthy baby normally after an ectopic pregnancy.