Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

If your doctor suspects an ectopic pregnancy, he or she might do a pelvic exam to check for pain, tenderness, or a mass in the fallopian tube or ovary. A physical exam alone usually isn't enough to diagnose an ectopic pregnancy, however. The diagnosis is typically confirmed with blood tests and imaging studies, such as an ultrasound.

With a standard ultrasound, high-frequency sound waves are directed at the tissues in the abdominal area. During early pregnancy, however, the uterus and fallopian tubes are closer to the vagina than to the abdominal surface. The ultrasound will likely be done through a wand-like device placed in your vagina.

Sometimes it's too soon to detect a pregnancy through ultrasound. If the diagnosis is in question, your doctor might monitor your condition with blood tests until the ectopic pregnancy can be confirmed or ruled out through ultrasound — usually by four to five weeks after conception.

In an emergency situation — if you're bleeding heavily, for example — an ectopic pregnancy might be diagnosed and treated surgically.

Feb. 09, 2012

You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.