What is an Ectopic Pregnancy?
An ectopic pregnancy is when a fertilised egg implants itself outside the womb, usually in one of the fallopian tubes but this can occur in other parts of the abdomen.
In the UK around 1 in every 90 pregnancies is ectopic – roughly 11,000 pregnancies per year.
An ectopic pregnancy can be detected on a transvaginal ultrasound, as early as 6 weeks gestation based on your last menstrual cycle dates. In the event that your sonographer detects an ectopic pregnancy the outcome will be explained to you but you will need to stay in the scan room whilst your chaperone calls an ambulance to take you to your local NHS trust to ensure you get the appropriate care as quick as possible.
What treatment is available to me?
Unfortunately, if your scan determines an ectopic pregnancy it is not possible to save the pregnancy – it usually has to be removed using medicine or a procedure.
There are 3 options that will be discussed with you:
1. Expectant management – you would be under careful observation and one of the below treatments would be used to dissolve the pregnancy. This needs to be under specialised care at the hospital.
2. Medical management – an injection of medicine called methotrexate is used to stop the pregnancy growing and actually be dissolved by the chemotherapy action. This needs to be under specialised care at the hospital.
3. Surgical management – a laparoscopic keyhole surgery is performed under general anaesthetic to remove the ectopic and in many cases the affected fallopian tube will need to be removed.
Each option will be discussed with you in order to make the most informed decision, in many cases the recommended treatment will be based on you symptoms, the size of the ectopic and results of tests.
It’s important to know that whatever you may be feeling is normal, there is no right or wrong way. At firstScan & Window to the Womb our sonographers and chaperones will explain your scan report to you and explain the next steps in order to ensure you receive the correct ongoing care. An ambulance will be called to take you to the hospital so that you can be safely transferred and handed directly to the Doctors and Nurses by the paramedic team.
There are organisations that can help and support you during this time. This help can be found at The Miscarriage Association or The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust.