Ectopic pregnancy (also called tubal pregnancy) is a pregnancy that develops outside the uterus, most commonly in one of the fallopian tubes. If left untreated it is a potentially fatal condition. It occurs in about 1% of pregnancies in the US.

The condition is usually diagnosed through blood tests, ultrasound, and exploratory laparoscopy. The condition is treated through surgery to remove the developing fetus, the placenta, and any damaged tissue. If the fallopian tube cannot be repaired, it is removed. Future normal pregnancy is possible with one fallopian tube.

Signs and Symptoms

Early stages:

  1. Lower abdominal cramps.
  2. Missed menstrual period or a heavy, painful period.
  3. Unexplained vaginal spotting or bleeding.
Late stages:
  1. Sudden, sharp, severe abdominal pain caused by rupture of the fallopian tube.
  2. Dizziness, fainting and shock (paleness, rapid heartbeat, drop in blood pressure and cold sweats). These may precede or accompany pain.

Risk Factors