Ectopic Pregnancy Overview
An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that develops outside
a woman's uterus (womb). This happens when the fertilized egg from the ovary
does not reach or implant itself normally in the uterus. Instead, the egg develops
somewhere else in the abdomen. The products of this conception are abnormal and cannot develop into fetuses.
- The most common place that ectopic pregnancy occurs
is in one of the Fallopian tubes (a so-called tubal pregnancy).
These are the tubes that transport the egg from the ovary to the uterus.
Ectopic pregnancies also can be found on the outside of the uterus, on the
ovaries, or attached to the bowel.
- The most serious complication of an ectopic pregnancy is intra-abdominal hemorrhage (severe
bleeding). In the case of a tubal pregnancy, for example, as the products
of conception continue to grow in the Fallopian tube, the tube expands and
eventually ruptures. This can be very dangerous because a large artery runs on the outside of each
Fallopian tube. If the artery ruptures, the woman can bleed severely.
- Ectopic pregnancy is usually found in the first 5-10 weeks of pregnancy.
- Ectopic pregnancy is the leading cause of pregnancy-related deaths in
the first trimester of pregnancy in the US.
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