Ectopic pregnancy

A pregnancy that grows outside the womb, and occurs within the fallopian tube in 20 to 25 percent of cases

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About ectopic pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy may occur on the fallopian tubes, cervix, abdomen or on an ovary. An ectopic pregnancy cannot survive as only the womb can support the growth of a foetus. If an ectopic pregnancy bursts inside a fallopian tube, it is a life-threatening medical emergency. We are fully equipped to perform the urgent surgery that this requires.

Need to know

  • a missed period, sickness or breast swelling (typical symptoms of pregnancy)
  • vaginal bleeding
  • tummy pain low down on one side
  • pain in the top of your shoulder
  • discomfort when urinating or passing stools

It can be difficult to diagnose an ectopic pregnancy because many of its symptoms can be associated with other conditions. Your consultant may refer you for: 

  • A transvaginal ultrasound. This checks the development of the foetus. It involves inserting a small probe into your vagina.
  • A blood test to monitor hormone levels associated with pregnancy.
  • Keyhole surgery. If it's still unclear whether you have an ectopic pregnancy your consultant may recommend surgery. They will use a laparoscope (a small surgical instrument with a camera on the end) to examine your womb and fallopian tubes directly.

Unfortunately, the baby cannot be saved in an ectopic pregnancy. There are a number of treatment options for the mother. 

  • Close monitoring to see if the pregnancy dissolves by itself.
  • Administering a medicine to stop the fetus from growing. This is given as a single injection in the buttocks.
  • Keyhole surgery may be undertaken to remove the pregnancy before the fetus becomes too large.
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From complex surgery to straightforward procedures, we provide exceptional care across our network of hospitals, outpatient centres and specialist clinics.

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The Portland Hospital

205-209 Great Portland Street W1W 5AH London
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Our team can help with any enquiries or you can make an appointment with one of our experienced consultants.

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.