The Difference between Ectopic Pregnancy and Miscarriage
An Ectopic Pregnancy can be More Harmful to the Mother than a Miscarriage
There are a number of symptoms that are quite common during pregnancy such as lower abdominal pain and morning sickness. However, lower abdominal pain can actually be indicative of a more serious problem.
It should be noted that not all pregnant women with lower abdominal pain have serious problems, and a transvaginal or internal scan is the most efficient way to rule out ectopic pregnancy. At OMNI Ultrasound and Gynaecological Care in Sydney we use a transvaginal scan that is able to detect more than 90% of ectopic pregnancies.
Key Differences between Ectopic Pregnancy and a Miscarriage
While the symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy may mimic a miscarriage there are key differences:
1. While an ectopic pregnancy may mimic a miscarriage, an ectopic pregnancy can potentially be fatal to the mother.
Did you know that the leading cause of maternal deaths in the first trimester is ectopic pregnancies?
An ectopic pregnancy can be fatal because the fertilised egg implants outside the womb, usually in the fallopian tube. As the ectopic pregnancy grows the fallopian tube may burst which will cause severe bleeding and endanger your life.
2. An ectopic pregnancy is not a developing pregnancy.
Ectopic pregnancies are sometimes called tubal pregnancies because the egg usually implants in the fallopian tube and usually does not contain a fetus.
With an ultrasound provided by the skilled and caring team at OMNI we can help diagnose the condition of your pregnancy and provide your GP or Specialist with the relevant data to plan your pregnancy.
The Medical Management of Ectopic Pregnancy and Miscarriage
Whether it’s a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy there are three methods of treatment. Two methods are non-invasive and non-surgical called expectant management and medical management. The other one is surgerical:
- Keyhole surgery (for ectopic pregnancy)
- D&C (dilatation and curettage for miscarriage)
Expectant Management vs. Medical Management
Thanks to advances in ultrasound technology tubal ectopic pregnancies are being detected earlier and earlier. This also means that more women are eligible for expectant management, which involves no hospitalisation and no surgery.
Expectant management is a watch and wait approach to see if the ectopic pregnancy will resolve itself. If you are eligible for expectant management you will be looked after closely by the OMNI team with tests and ultrasound. Close monitoring is a necessary component of expectant management because of the small possibility of a tubal ectopic pregnancy rupturing.
Medical Management is undertaken when you aren’t eligible for expectant management and is another form of non-surgical treatment. Medical management involves giving you an injection of methotrexate, this has been used since the ’8os as an alternative to surgery.
Methotrexate, when used in low doses, ends the pregnancy by stopping pregnancy cells from dividing. Not only does methotrexate end the pregnancy it also conserves the tube where the pregnancy has implanted. Like expectant management, there are some cases when medical management may not be enough and surgery is required.
As part of OMNI’s commitment to patient care we closely monitor women and perform regular ultrasound tests to ensure your continued good health.
Professor Condous is a World Expert in ectopic pregnancy and has published and lectured widely on the subject.