An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants somewhere other than the main cavity of the uterus. Pregnancy begins with a fertilized egg. Normally, the fertilized egg attaches itself to the lining of the uterus.
An ectopic pregnancy most often occurs in one of the tubes that carry eggs from the ovaries to the uterus (fallopian tubes). This type of ectopic pregnancy is known as a tubal pregnancy. In some cases, however, an ectopic pregnancy occurs in the abdominal cavity, ovary or neck of the uterus (cervix).
An ectopic pregnancy can't proceed normally. The fertilized egg can't survive, and the growing tissue might destroy various maternal structures. Left untreated, life-threatening blood loss is possible.
Early treatment of an ectopic pregnancy can help preserve the chance for future healthy pregnancies.
Jan. 20, 2015
- Frequently asked questions. Pregnancy FAQ 0155. Ectopic pregnancy. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Ectopic-Pregnancy. Accessed Dec. 9, 2014.
- Cunningham FG, et al. Williams Obstetrics. 24th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2014. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/book.aspx?bookid=1057. Accessed Dec. 9, 2014.
- Tulandi T. Clinical manifestations, diagnosis, and management of ectopic pregnancy. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Dec. 9, 2014.
- Tulandi T. Incidence, risk factors, and pathology of ectopic pregnancy. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Dec. 9, 2014.
- Harms RW (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 15, 2014.
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