An ectopic pregnancy differs from a normal pregnancy in that the fertilized egg descends from the ovaries through the Fallopian tube but stops and implants in the Fallopian tube instead of the uterus proper. Such a pregnancy can only develop so far because the Fallopian tube is such a small space and the pregnancy eventually succumbs to the pressure against the Fallopian tube and the Fallopian tube stretches and then ruptures. If an ectopic pregnancy occurs, it is the job of the doctor to remove the products of pregnancy before it causes tubal rupture. An ectopic pregnancy can also mean a pregnancy that has implanted somewhere other than the fallopian tube, such as on the ovary itself or someplace else in the abdominal or pelvic area.

Our medical negligence solicitors deal with personal injury compensation claims arising from clinical errors relating to ectopic pregnancy. We deal with claims using the no win no fee scheme. To speak to one of our medical negligence solicitors about ectopic pregnancy just email our offices or complete the contact form or call our helpline. We offer free advice with no further obligation.

Ectopic Pregnancy

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.

Medical Overview

Ectopic pregnancies cannot be salvaged. They can only be removed as quickly as possible so that the fallopian tube can be saved for future pregnancies. The larger a tubal pregnancy or other ectopic pregnancy gets, the more bleeding complications can happen. Ectopic pregnancies are dangerous and can be fatal if not treated promptly.

Ectopic pregnancies can be caused by a number of things. If the fallopian tube is damaged somehow or is otherwise not smooth, an ectopic pregnancy can occur. The egg gets hung up on a scarred area of the fallopian tube and begins to grow there. In addition, things like smoking increase your chances of having an ectopic pregnancy. Pelvic inflammatory disease, which is an infection of the reproductive tract caused by Chlamydia or gonorrhea, can scar the fallopian tube and can damage the tube. Endometriosis is a collection of endometrial tissue that has travelled up the fallopian tubes and has implanted there. It results in a blockage of the zygote in its path to the uterus. If you were exposed to the chemical DES before you were born, you’re at a higher risk of having an ectopic pregnancy. Surgical treatments can increase your risk as well, including surgery in the pelvic area or on the fallopian tubes themselves, having a reversal of a tubal ligation or having in vitro fertilization or other fertility treatments.

So what are the major symptoms of ectopic pregnancy? In the early stages, an ectopic pregnancy feels just like a normal pregnancy. You’ll have fatigue, nausea and pain in the breasts. As the ectopic pregnancy advances, you’ll get pain in the pelvis or abdomen that begins on one side of the pelvis and spreads throughout the abdomen and pelvis. There may be vaginal bleeding from the tube bleeding.

The doctor can diagnose an ectopic pregnancy by doing a urine evaluation for pregnancy and by following that up with an ultrasound. Another way to check the hormones in an early ectopic pregnancy is to get a serum quantitative HCG (pregnancy hormone) level on one day and again two days later. If the level hasn’t doubled in two days, the pregnancy is in trouble.

An ectopic pregnancy is treated in a couple of ways. Medications can be used, such as methotrexate, to shrink the pregnancy and allow it to pass on its own. This works well in early cases of ectopic pregnancy. The shot may need to be repeated more than once and the reduction in pregnancy is followed using the quantitative HCG levels. If this doesn’t work or the pregnancy is too advanced, doctors do laparoscopic surgery on the pelvis to open up and clean out the fallopian tube. If the tube seems viable, it is sewn back together and salvaged. If the tube is seriously damaged from a ruptured ectopic pregnancy, the surgery must involve removal of a portion of the tube along with the products of pregnancy.

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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