Ectopic pregnancy
A pregnancy that is not in the uterus. The fertilized egg settles and grows in any location other than the inner lining of the uterus. The large majority (95%) of ectopic pregnancies occur in the Fallopian tube. However, they can occur in other locations, such as the ovary, cervix, and abdominal cavity. An ectopic pregnancy occurs in about 1 in 60 pregnancies. Most ectopic pregnancies occur in women 35 to 44 years of age. The term "ectopic" comes from the Greek "ektopis" meaning "displacement" ("ek", out of + "topos", place = out of place). The first person to use "ectopic" in a medical context was the English obstetrician Robert Barnes (1817-1907) who applied it to an extrauterine pregnancy: an ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancies are frequently due to an inability of the fertilized egg to make its way through a Fallopian tube into the uterus. Risk factors predisposing to an ectopic pregnancy include: Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) which can damage the tube's functioning or leave it partly or completely blocked; Surgery on a Fallopian tube; Surgery in the neighborhood of the Fallopian tube which can leave adhesions (bands of tissue that bind together surfaces); Endometriosis, a condition in which tissue like that normally lining the uterus is found outside the uterus; A prior ectopic pregnancy; A history of repeated induced abortions; A history of infertility problems or medications to stimulate ovulation; and An abnormality in the shape of the Fallopian tube, as with a congenital malformation (a birth defect). A major concern with an ectopic pregnancy is internal bleeding. If there is any doubt, seek medical attention promptly. Pain is usually the first symptom of an ectopic pregnancy. The pain is usually sharp and stabbing. It is often on one side and may be in the pelvis, abdomen or even in the shoulder or neck (due to blood from a ruptured ectopic pregnancy building up under the diaphragm and the pain being "referred" up to the shoulder or neck). Weakness, dizziness or lightheadedness, and a sense of passing out upon standing can represent serious internal bleeding, requiring immediate medical attention. Diagnosis of an ectopic pregnancy includes a pelvic exam to test for pain, tenderness or a mass in the abdomen. The most useful laboratory test is the measurement of the hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin). In a normal pregnancy, the level of hCG doubles about every two days during the first 10 weeks whereas in an ectopic pregnancy, the hCG rise is usually slower and lower than normal. Ultrasound can also help determine if a pregnancy is ectopic, as may sometimes culdocentesis, the insertion of a needle through the vagina into the space behind the uterus to see if there is blood there from a ruptured Fallopian tube. Treatment of an ectopic pregnancy is surgery, often by laparoscopy today, to remove the ill-fated pregnancy. A ruptured tube usually has to be removed. If the tube has yet not burst, it may be possible to repair it. The prognosis (outlook) for future pregnancies depends on the extent of the surgery. If the Fallopian tube has been spared, the chance of a successful pregnancy is usually better than 50%. If a Fallopian tube has been removed, an egg can be fertilized in the other tube, and the chance of a successful pregnancy drops somewhat

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ectopic pregnancy n gestation elsewhere than in the uterus (as in a fallopian tube or in the peritoneal cavity) called also ectopic gestation, extrauterine gestation, extrauterine pregnancy

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the development of a fetus at a site other than in the uterus. This may happen if the fertilized egg cell remains in the ovary or in the tube leading from near the ovary to the uterus (the Fallopian tube) or if it lodges in the free abdominal cavity. The most common type of ectopic pregnancy is a tubal (or oviducal) pregnancy, which occurs in Fallopian tubes that become blocked or inflamed. The growth of the fetus may cause the tube to rupture and bleed. In many cases the fetus dies within three months of conception and the products are absorbed into the maternal circulation. Rarely, the pregnancy may continue until a live baby can be delivered by Caesarean section. The condition may be diagnosed by ultrasound and the products of conception may be removed by laparoscopy before damage is done to the Fallopian tube.

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development of the embryo outside the uterine cavity; called also extrauterine p.

Diagram showing locations of ectopic (extrauterine) pregnancy.


Medical dictionary. 2011.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • ectopic pregnancy — ► NOUN ▪ a pregnancy in which the fetus develops outside the womb, typically in a Fallopian tube …   English terms dictionary

  • ectopic pregnancy — ☆ ectopic pregnancy n. a pregnancy with the fertilized ovum developing outside the uterus, as in a Fallopian tube …   English World dictionary

  • Ectopic pregnancy — eMedicine2|radio|231 MeshID = D011271An ectopic pregnancy is a complication of pregnancy in which the fertilized ovum is implanted in any tissue other than the uterine wall. Most ectopic pregnancies occur in the Fallopian tube (so called tubal… …   Wikipedia

  • ectopic pregnancy — Med. the development of a fertilized ovum outside the uterus, as in a Fallopian tube. Also called extrauterine pregnancy. [1925 30] * * * or extrauterine pregnancy Condition in which a fertilized egg is imbedded outside the uterus (see… …   Universalium

  • ectopic pregnancy — extrauterine pregnancy the implantation of a fertilized egg cell at a site outside the uterus. This may happen if the fertilized egg cell remains in the ovary or in the Fallopian tube or if it lodges in the free abdominal cavity. The most common… …   The new mediacal dictionary

  • ectopic pregnancy — pregnancy that takes place outside the uterus …   English contemporary dictionary

  • ectopic pregnancy — noun pregnancy resulting from gestation elsewhere than in the uterus • Syn: ↑extrauterine pregnancy, ↑ectopic gestation, ↑extrauterine gestation, ↑eccyesis, ↑metacyesis • Hypernyms: ↑pregnancy, ↑gestation …   Useful english dictionary

  • ectopic pregnancy — noun A pregnancy in which the fertilized ovum is implanted in any tissue other than the uterine wall. Most ectopic pregnancies occur in the Fallopian tube (so called tubal pregnancies), but implantation can also occur in the cervix, ovaries, and… …   Wiktionary

  • ectopic pregnancy — /ɛktɒpɪk ˈprɛgnənsi/ (say ektopik pregnuhnsee) noun (plural ectopic pregnancies) a pregnancy in which the foetus develops outside the uterus, usually in one of the fallopian tubes, but sometimes in the cervix, ovaries, or abdomen …   Australian English dictionary

  • ectopic pregnancy — noun a pregnancy in which the fetus develops outside the womb, typically in a Fallopian tube …   English new terms dictionary

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