Usually learning of a pregnancy is a time filled with joy and anticipation. But in the case of an ectopic pregnancy, it’s both difficult and filled with serious potential health consequences for the mother. During this type of pregnancy a fertilized egg is implanted outside the uterus, often in the Fallopian tube and occasionally in the abdomen or ovary. Ectopic situations usually end in miscarriage, as it’s not possible for the fetus to thrive outside the uterus. Ectopic pregnancies can have serious lasting health consequences for mothers, including being fatal if left untreated.
What are the signs of an ectopic pregnancy?
There may be a number of signs and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy, including:
- Pain in the abdomen, or related regional pain in the lower back, ribs, or pelvis
- Cramping and tenderness, whether static, with movement, or to the touch
- Difficulty and pain during urination and bowel movements
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
Increased risk of ectopic pregnancy
While any woman is at risk for this condition, there are a number of factors that can increase the risk that clinicians should look for including, but not limited to:
- A history of ectopic pregnancies or pregnancy despite having “tubes tied”
- Existing diagnoses including pelvic inflammatory disease, STDs, or endometriosis
- Patient history of Fallopian tube operations
- Reproductive health factors including Intrauterine device (IUD) usage and the use of fertility drugs and treatments
Types of Ectopic Pregnancy
There are different types of pregnancies that need to be screened for when an ectopic situation is suspected. Tubal pregnancy – in the Fallopian tube – accounts for 98% of cases. Non tubal ectopic pregnancy may occur in the cervix, ovary, or abdomen. With heterotopic pregnancies, two eggs are fertilized. One implants normally in the uterus, and the other is an ectopic fetus.
Clinical Handling of Diagnosis and Treatment
A woman who has a positive pregnancy test and symptoms of bleeding or abdominal pain should be examined for the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy. Examinations include: a pelvic exam, blood tests, and ultrasounds. If treatment is not provided, serious damage can occur. Treatment is dictated by the stage of pregnancy and the severity. Early on, methotrexate is a drug which can be administered to stop pregnancy since the embryo will not remain viable. In other cases, surgery to remove the embryo may be required.
Serious complications can occur if treatment isn’t given. Ectopic situations are often misdiagnosed as appendicitis, gastrointestinal issues, or urinary tract infections. If misdiagnosed or undetected, the Fallopian tube may rupture which can cause severe internal damage and have lasting impact on a woman’s reproductive capabilities. If this situation isn’t treated, the end result can be shock or even death.
If you or a loved one has experienced medical malpractice through misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, or negligence, contact us today. Rasmussen & Miner’s experienced malpractice attorneys will discuss your ectopic pregnancy case and determine if you have an actionable claim.