A tubal or ectopic pregnancy occurs outside of the uterus. When a woman becomes pregnant, the fertilized egg migrates to the uterus where it embeds itself through the course of the pregnancy. In the womb, the fetus gets everything it needs.
In some cases, the fertilized egg fails to migrate through the fallopian tube and attaches there, never making it to the uterus. It then begins to grow there. This presents a very dangerous medical condition. The fallopian tube will eventually burst from the egg growing inside of it.
What is a Tubal Pregnancy?
An ectopic pregnancy can be misdiagnosed as another condition such as pelvic inflammatory disease, ovarian cysts or even a healthy pregnancy. There are specific tests that can be done to diagnose the ectopic pregnancy, such as transvaginal interior ultrasound to try to find a pregnancy in the uterus, certain hormone tests and pregnancy tests. The undiagnosed or misdiagnosed tubal pregnancy often occurs in emergency situations and can result in serious injury or death. The undiagnosed or misdiagnosed ectopic pregnancy has a higher likelihood of rupture and bleeding before that true condition is discovered.
A rupture of a fallopian tube is a true life or death medical emergency. There can be the severe rectal pain, severe shoulder pain, pain on either side of the abdomen and internal or external bleeding. The condition might render the woman unconscious.
Treatment of an ectopic pregnancy
How the ectopic pregnancy is treated depends on its severity and how far along it is. If caught early enough, a drug known as methotrexate might be given to halt the pregnancy growth. The woman’s body then either absorbs or vaginally passes the pregnancy. The advantage of methotrexate is that surgery can be avoided, and there probably won’t be a need to remove the fallopian tube. If the ectopic pregnancy is farther along and larger, surgical intervention is likely required before there is either damage or immediate danger to the woman. In the context of surgery, conservative laparoscopic surgery has shown to involve fewer complications and adhesions. There is also much less blood loss and recovery time. This is also the most cost effective of the surgical choices. If the fertilized egg cannot be located and the woman’s health has been compromised, either part or all of the fallopian tube is removed. In either case, there will be a decrease in the woman’s fertility. She might also be at a higher risk for another ectopic pregnancy.
When malpractice might occur
The most common claim against the doctor involving an ectopic pregnancy includes a delay or failure in diagnosis. This results in the tubal pregnancy being discovered at a later stage when surgery becomes the sole treatment option. Of course, surgery avails the woman to more and higher risks, along with the likelihood of decreased fertility. Malpractice might also occur if both fallopian tubes are removed, when in fact, only one tube required removal. With the removal of only one tube, the possibility of future pregnancy remains open. With the removal of both, the only alternative is in vitro fertilization. Damages issues will escalate.
Should a woman suspect an ectopic pregnancy, immediate medical care is needed. She should insist on proper diagnostics, care and treatment until either an ectopic pregnancy is ruled out or resolved.