Normally, at the beginning of a pregnancy, the fertilized egg travels from the Reference fallopian tube Opens New Window to the Reference uterus Opens New Window, where it implants and grows. But in about 2% of diagnosed pregnancies, the fertilized egg attaches to an area outside of the uterus, which results in an ectopic pregnancy (also known as a tubal pregnancy or an extrauterine pregnancy).Reference 3
An Reference ectopic pregnancy Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window cannot support the life of a fetus for very long. But an ectopic pregnancy can grow large enough to rupture the area it occupies, cause heavy bleeding, and endanger the mother. A woman with signs or symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy requires immediate medical care.
An ectopic pregnancy can Reference develop in different locations Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window. In most ectopic pregnancies, the fertilized egg has implanted in a fallopian tube.
In rare cases:
- The egg attaches and grows in an ovary, the cervix, or the abdominal cavity (outside of the Reference reproductive system Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window).
- One or more eggs grow in the uterus, and one or more grow in a fallopian tube, the cervix, or the abdominal cavity. This is called a Reference heterotopic pregnancy Opens New Window.
Complications of ectopic pregnancy
Ectopic pregnancy can damage the fallopian tube, which can make it difficult to become pregnant in the future.
Ectopic pregnancies are usually detected early enough to prevent deadly complications such as severe bleeding. A Reference ruptured ectopic pregnancy Opens New Window requires emergency surgery to prevent heavy bleeding into the abdomen. The affected tube is partially or fully removed. For more information, see Reference Surgery.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference August 7, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Reference Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology