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How is an ectopic pregnancy treated?

Dr. Kevin W. Windom, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrician & Gynecologist)

An ectopic pregnancy can be treated in two ways. If the ectopic pregnancy is caught early, the patient is stable, and there is no internal bleeding, it can be treated with a chemotherapy medication called methotrexate. Methotrexate is a medication that affects the cell cycle and can disrupt the rapid growth of a pregnancy. This will cause the ectopic pregnancy to dissolve and can remedy the problem. If a patient is unstable such as internal bleeding, severe pain or the ectopic pregnancy is greater than 3.5 cm, it is deemed appropriate for the ptient to have surgery. The surgical treatment for an ectopic pregnancy can be performed by either opening the fallopian tube and removing the abnormal pregnancy or removing the entire fallopian tube. It is my preference to always use methotrexate for my patients if possible so as to decrease the chances of them needing surgery. If they do need surgery, I believe that a laparoscopic approach without removing the fallopian tube is the best method.

An ectopic pregnancy is extremely dangerous for the pregnant woman. As the fertilized egg grows, it will eventually burst (rupture) the organ that contains it. This can cause severe, life-threatening bleeding inside the abdomen.

An ectopic pregnancy must be ended as soon as possible. It can be ended with a medication called methotrexate or through surgery. When an ectopic pregnancy is discovered early (during the first six weeks) in the pregnancy and specific hormone levels are low, the doctor will probably recommend methotrexate.

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