Laparoscopic Procedure for Ectopic Pregnancy
Ectopic pregnancies occur when a fertilized egg fails to attach to the uterus. In most ectopic pregnancies, the egg will attach to the fallopian tubes. Less common, it may also attach to the abdominal cavity or cervix. Ectopic pregnancies occur in one out of every 50 pregnancies.
Outside the uterus, a fertilized egg has virtually no chance of survival. This condition may cause serious health complications if not treated. As such, immediate treatment is highly recommended. Early treatment may prevent fertility problems as well as future health complications.
What Causes Ectopic Pregnancy?
The causes of an ectopic pregnancy are not clear in all cases. In some cases, the following conditions have been linked with the abnormal pregnancy:
- inflammation and scarring of the fallopian tubes from a previous medical
- condition or surgery
- hormonal factors
- genetic abnormalities
- birth defects
- medical conditions that affect the shape and condition of the fallopian tubes and reproductive organs
Who Is at Risk for Ectopic Pregnancy?
All sexually active women are at some risk for an ectopic pregnancy. Risk factors increase with any of the following conditions:
- advanced maternal age of 35 years or older
- history of pelvic surgery, abdominal surgery, or multiple abortions
- history of the pelvic inflammatory disease
- history of endometriosis
- conception occurred despite tubal ligation or IUD
- conception aided by fertility drugs or procedures
- previous ectopic pregnancies
- history of sexually transmitted diseases
What Are the Symptoms of Ectopic Pregnancy?
Nausea and sore breasts, which are also common in a normal pregnancy, are common in ectopic pregnancies. Other symptoms more clearly point to an abnormal pregnancy. The following symptoms should be discussed with your doctor:
- sharp waves of pain in the abdomen, pelvis, shoulder, or neck
- light to heavy vaginal spotting or bleeding
- dizziness or fainting
- rectal pressure
- Treating Ectopic Pregnancy
Ectopic pregnancies cannot develop to term. The embryo, therefore, must be removed as soon as possible. This is necessary to both save the mother’s life and preserve her fertility. Treatment options vary depending on the location of the ectopic pregnancy and its development.
If your physician concludes that immediate complications are unlikely, he or she may inject a drug called methotrexate. Methotrexate stops the growth of rapidly dividing cells, such as the cells of the embryo. Regular blood tests will ensure that the drug is effective. Methotrexate does not carry the same risks of fallopian tube damage that come with surgery.
Many surgeons choose laparoscopic surgery to remove the embryo and repair any internal damage. Under anesthesia, a small camera is inserted through an incision in the abdomen. Additional incisions may be made that allow other tools to remove the embryo and repair damage to the fallopian tube. If the surgery is unsuccessful, a laparotomy will be performed through a larger incision.
If the fallopian tube has ruptured or is severely damaged, it may need to be removed during surgery.