Ectopic Pregnancy

In a normal pregnancy, the fertilized ovum (egg) attaches itself to the inner lining of the uterus and begins to grow. An ectopic pregnancy is one in which the fertilized ovum attaches itself to another area outside the uterus and begins to grow. About 98% of ectopic pregnancies occur when the fertilized ovum starts developing in the fallopian tube (tubal pregnancy) but they can also occur in places like the cervix, ovary and the abdominal cavity (non-tubal pregnancy).

About 2% of all pregnancies turn out to be ectopic pregnancies and can pose a major health risk. The major risk is the risk of rupture which can lead to heavy internal bleeding. Up until the nineteenth century the mortality rate from ectopic pregnancies was as high as 50%. By the turn of the century, surgical intervention had reduced this rate to less than 5%. With improved detection and intervention techniques, the mortality rate today has dropped to less than 5 in 10,000. Most deaths due to ectopic pregnancies occur due to a failure to seek timely medical attention and it still remains the leading cause of pregnancy-related death during the first trimester.

Alternative Names     

Eccysis; tubal pregnancy; non-tubal pregnancy; heterotopic pregnancy