How is an ectopic pregnancy diagnosed?
Usually an ectopic pregnancy is diagnosed by an internal or transvaginal ultrasound scan, which provides a better view of the womb, ovaries and fallopian tubes. It involves inserting an ultrasound probe into the entrance of the vagina. However it is not always possible to see an ectopic pregnancy on a scan. If you are clinically well, you may have to have two blood tests (serial βhCG) over a 48-hour period to help with the diagnosis.
How is an ectopic pregnancy treated?
There are three treatment paths for ectopic pregnancy. Depending on the results of investigation and examination as undertaken by the treating hospital
The first way is to perform an operation, usually by keyhole surgery to remove the damaged fallopian tube and the ectopic pregnancy at the same time. This is called a laparoscopy. Click here to find out more about what to expect.
The second method of treatment involves an injection called Methotrexate. This is a drug that stops the ectopic pregnancy from growing, but you will need to be carefully monitored by your hospital.
In rare cases the ectopic is small enough to be managed without any drugs or any surgery. You may need several ultrasound scans to watch the pregnancy carefully as it comes to a natural end.
What happens after an ectopic pregnancy?
If you had a laparoscopy, you can try for another baby as soon as you like, but if you were treated with Methotrexate you will be advised to avoid pregnancy for 3-6 months. When you do get pregnant again it is a good idea for your GP to arrange an ultrasound in early pregnancy. This should be conducted at around 7 weeks after your last period. The scan is done as a precaution to confirm that your pregnancy is in the right place this time and not another ectopic. There is no risk to your baby if you had an ectopic pregnancy in the past.