Treatment of ectopic pregnancy

Summary: An ectopic pregnancy is life threatening and needs immediate medical attention. The treatment is decided based on how far the pregnancy has progressed. We look at some of the treatment options and the importance of the HCG level.

Content:

It is a very sad moment for a couple when they find out that they have an ectopic pregnancy. The embryo instead of implanting in the uterus due to certain conditions attaches itself outside the uterus. Most commonly the ectopic pregnancy happens in the fallopian tube.

The most unfortunate part of an ectopic pregnancy is that it has to be terminated. There is no way to save the foetus. An ectopic pregnancy cannot be allowed to continue as it puts the mother’s life at risk and is fatal. Secondly, the foetus cannot develop and grow normally outside the uterus. The uterus has been designed by nature to nurture and protect the baby as it grows which is not possible elsewhere in the body.

Treatment of the ectopic pregnancy depends on how far the pregnancy has progressed. The doctor decides the treatment after conducting various tests to ascertain the development of the foetus. Ectopic pregnancies that are detected early are easier to treat and less harmful to the patient as well.

Medication:

An early stage ectopic pregnancy that has not ruptured the fallopian tube can be treated with medication. The doctor will inject a drug, usually methotrexate to terminate the pregnancy. The cells of the embryo stop growing and instead begin to dissolve. The process is monitored through the HCG levels. When the HCG levels drop it denotes that the ectopic tissue has successfully disintegrated.

Surgery

If the pregnancy has progressed and the fallopian tube has been ruptured the only course of treatment is surgery. This is usually a dangerous situation for the patient as she could suffer an infection and the internal bleeding is fatal if not stopped. The doctor will perform a laparoscopic surgery and remove the ectopic tissue. The blood pool that accumulates internally needs to be drained and the internal bleeding stopped. The fallopian tube is repaired, however, if it is severely damaged the doctor might need to remove it or a part of the tube.

By monitoring the HCG levels the doctor is able to asses if all the ectopic tissue was removed. If the HCG levels do not drop after the surgery then methotrexate is injected to take care of the remaining tissue.

The termination of the ectopic pregnancy may be just another medical procedure for the doctors, but it is different for the parents. The emotions shared in an ectopic pregnancy are similar to that of a miscarriage. To the parents it is a loss of a child.

Depending on the cause of the ectopic pregnancy the doctors may or may not advise trying for another pregnancy. Usually the risk of having another ectopic pregnancy after this is much higher.

Some FAQ’s

Can I get pregnant again after ectopic pregnancy?

It depends on the condition of your fallopian tubes

If my ectopic pregnancy was terminated through medication what are my chances of having a normal pregnancy?

It is advisable to try for a normal pregnancy after consulting with your doctor.

What are my options after ectopic pregnancy?

Most doctors recommend IVF baby

Will it make me infertile if my fallopian tube is ruptured and removed?

In a sense it would, but the truth is that you could not have conceived naturally even prior to the surgery.

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