Surgical management of ectopic pregnancy

If you have been diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy, your treating physician will talk to you about the best way to manage your care. They may suggest that the safest way to treat your condition is with surgery, or unfortunately you may require surgery because your fallopian tube has ruptured.

Laparoscopy for ectopic pregnancy

The surgical management of ectopic pregnancy is by way of one of two laparoscopic procedures: a salpingostomy or salpingectomy. Which procedure is recommended will depend on your condition, the amount of bleeding or damage and whether the tube has ruptured.

A small incision is made to the abdomen, near or in the navel. A laparoscope (thin flexible tube equipped with a fibre optic light and camera) is inserted to view the tubal area. The surgeon will examine the abdominal area to determine how best to proceed.

  • In a salpingostomy, the ectopic pregnancy is removed and the tube left to heal on its own.
  • In a salpingectomy, the ectopic pregnancy and the tube are both removed.

Surgical management of ectopic pregnancy: what to expect

Your gynaecologist should have discussed with you the risks and benefits of the surgical management of ectopic pregnancy, but when you arrive you will have an opportunity to ask any questions you may have and you will be asked to sign a consent form.

You will be admitted to a bed on the ward, asked to change into an operating gown and you will be fitted with a patient identification bracelet. You will have your vital signs checked including your pulse, blood pressure and temperature. You will also be fitted with stockings, known as TEDS, to reduce the risk of developing blood clots in your legs. You will have a blood test before your operation to check your blood count and also to identify your blood group.

As you will have  your surgery under general anaesthetic, you will be seen and assessed by an anaesthetist. You should not take any food or drinks for at least six hours before your surgery, but you are allowed to drink transparent fluids up to two hours before your surgery. You may have small sips of water to take any tablets at any time up until your surgery. You may be given paracetamol or ibuprofen before the operation, but most patients do not require any other pre-medication before surgery.

Transfer to the operating theatre is usually on a trolley. You will stop in the anaesthetic room and have your paperwork, including the consent form and identification, checked. If you don’t have a drip in your arm this would be inserted before you are given your anaesthetic. Once asleep you will be transferred to the operating theatre.

With a laparoscopic procedure, you can expect a short hospital stay and minimal recovery time. Read more on our FAQs page.