An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that does not begin within the womb or uterus but begins elsewhere-in the fallopian tubes, on the ovaries or in the abdomen or pelvis. Ectopic pregnancies rarely survive although rarely, an abdominal pregnancy survives to the caesarean section delivery of the infant. Ectopic pregnancies can be dangerous and even life-threatening due to a severe amount of bleeding that can occur when the ectopic pregnancy ruptures or separates from the surrounding tissue. Emergency surgery is often necessary to save the individual's life. If you think that your condition has worsened as a result of medical negligence, contact our ectopic pregnancy solicitors for advice at no cost.

The causes of an ectopic pregnancy involve the lack of ability of the fertilized egg to pass into the fallopian tubes to reach the uterus. It can be idiopathic and there can be no reason for this to happen. Women who have scarring in their fallopian tubes from previous infection can have an increase in ectopic pregnancy. There can be a congenital blockage of the tubes or hormonal factors that contribute to the lack of ability of the egg to pass through the tubes.

Risk factors for scarring of the fallopian tubes include having a past ectopic pregnancy, having surgery to the fallopian tube or having a past infection in the tube. Fifty percent of women with an ectopic pregnancy have had pelvic inflammatory disease in the past due to Chlamydia or gonorrhoea. You can also get an increase in ectopic pregnancy if you are over 35 years of age, have had many sexual partners, have had in vitro fertilization, have had complications of a ruptured appendix, have had endometriosis or birth defects involving the fallopian tubes. Any previous pelvic surgery can contribute to ectopic pregnancy.

Ectopic pregnancies are more likely after having a tubal ligation. It usually takes about two to three years in order to have the tube open enough to allow the partial passage of sperm and egg. Women with IUDs or tubal ligation reversals are more likely to end in ectopic pregnancy. About one in 40 to one in 100 pregnancies end up being ectopic pregnancies.

Symptoms of ectopic pregnancy include abnormal vaginal bleeding in the presence of a positive pregnancy test. A lack of periods at all can mean an ectopic or normal pregnancy. There are usually signs of pregnancy, especially breast tenderness. Low back pain or cramping of the pelvic area can contribute to signs of ectopic pregnancy. There can be nausea and vomiting along with severe pelvic pain as a sign of ectopic pregnancy.

If there is rupture of an ectopic pregnancy, the woman can pass out or feel intense rectal pressure. There can be severe shoulder pain and sharp pain on either side of the abdomen. Internal or vaginal bleeding can be noted and can lead to low blood pressure in one out of every ten sufferers.

As an ectopic pregnancy can be life threatening, it is important to diagnose it right away. This means doing an ultrasound to find no pregnancy in the uterus in the presence of a positive pregnancy test. Sometimes the ectopic pregnancy can be seen right away by ultrasound and before there is rupture and bleeding of the area. If there is rupture, tests include a culdocentesis, which is a test that can detect blood in the pelvis. A hematocrit can tell if there is a low blood count. Quantitative HCG tests can tell the amount of pregnancy hormone in the body. It will often be low in ectopic pregnancies and will drop over time. A serum progesterone level will be low and the white blood cell count might be increased, especially after a rupture.

A dilatation and curettage will show no products of pregnancy in the scraped lining of the uterus. A laparoscopy or laparotomy may need to be done to remove the products of pregnancy and take care of bleeding areas either before or after rupture.

The treatment of ectopic pregnancy can include giving methotrexate to shrink the products of pregnancy and possibly avoid a surgery. If this doesn't work, there must be surgery in the form of a laparotomy or a laparoscopy to remove the products of pregnancy and hopefully repair the fallopian tube so a normal pregnancy can happen in the future. Blood transfusions are needed if there is excessive bleeding.

Medical Negligence Solicitors

Our ectopic pregnancy solicitors operate the no win no fee scheme which is totally without risk. You only pay legal charges if the case is won. There are no upfront charges to pay whatsoever. If you would like to discuss your potential compensation claim with a specialist medical negligence solicitor just email our solicitors offices or use the helpline. Once you have provided sufficient information you will speak with an ectopic pregnancy solicitor who will advise you on the prospects of success for your claim and an estimated amount of compensation that may be awarded. Our advice is totally without cost and there is no further obligation to use our legal services. Do yourself justice and give us a call.

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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here