What is an Ectopic Pregnancy?



The word "ectopic" is derived from the Greek word "ektopos," meaning "out of place." In the context of pregnancy, an ectopic pregnancy occurs when one to two percent of fertilised eggs implant outside the uterine cavity, most commonly in the fallopian tube. When this occurs, it results in an ectopic pregnancy, where the embryo continues to grow in an unsuitable location, leading to potentially disastrous consequences, primarily due to intra-abdominal hemorrhage.

As the pregnancy progresses in the fallopian tube, the growing embryo can cause significant complications. One of the early signs may include bleeding from the ostium, known as a tubal abortion. In more severe cases, the continued growth of the embryo can lead to tubal rupture, which is a medical emergency. A ruptured fallopian tube often results in catastrophic hemorrhage, posing a serious threat to the woman's health and requiring immediate surgical intervention.

Ectopic pregnancies are a critical condition that needs prompt diagnosis and treatment to prevent severe outcomes. Symptoms often include sharp abdominal pain, vaginal bleeding, and dizziness or fainting due to blood loss. Early detection through ultrasound and monitoring of hCG levels can help in managing the condition effectively, often necessitating medication or surgery to remove the ectopic tissue and prevent further complications. Understanding the nature and risks of ectopic pregnancies is crucial for ensuring timely and appropriate medical care.

CPD time1m
First Published21 August 2019
Updated20 August 2019
30 August 2027
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