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.

To find out more, or to book a consultation, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 1300 851 968

OMNI Ultrasound & Gynaecological Care

Condous performs Advanced Endosurgery procedures for women needing intervention for pelvic masses, adnexal pathology, severe endometriosis or hysterectomy. He also runs ‘Hands on’ Live Sheep Laparoscopic Workshops for gynaecologists at Camden Veterinarian School.
Having completed an undergraduate degree with the University of Adelaide, he left Australia in 1993 and moved to London where he completed his training in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. From 2001 to 2003 Condous worked as a Senior Research Fellow at St George’s Hospital, London. At St George’s he set up the Acute Gynaecology Unit, the first in the United Kingdom. It was also during this time that he developed an interest in Early Pregnancy and especially the management of pregnancies of unknown location (PULs). Condous has developed many mathematical models for the prediction of outcome of PULs which have been featured in numerous peer review journals. In 2005, he returned to Australia where he completed his Laparoscopic Fellowship at the Centre for Advanced Reproductive Endosurgery, Royal North Shore, Sydney.

Condous was appointed as a Consultant Gynaecologist and Senior Lecturer at Nepean Hospital in 2006 and soon was made Associate Professor. In 2010, he was made Departmental Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Nepean Hospital. He obtained the MRCOG in 1999 and was made FRANZCOG in 2005. In 2009, he was awarded his Doctorate in Medicine (MD), University of London, for his thesis entitled: “The management of pregnancies of unknown location and the development of new mathematical models to predict outcome”.

Condous has edited three books including the “Handbook of Early Pregnancy Care”, published over 100 papers in international journals and is internationally renowned for his work in Early Pregnancy. He is the Associate Editor for Gynaecologic Obstetric Investigation, which is a European based journal, as well as the Australasian Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine (AJUM). He is on the organising committee and is an invited speaker at the International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynaecology (ISUOG) Scientific meeting in Sydney 2013. His current research interests relate to the management of ectopic pregnancy, 1st trimester growth, PULs and miscarriage and the use of transvaginal ultrasound (in particular sonovaginography, to predict posterior compartment deep infiltrating rectovaginal endometriosis).Condous is also actively involved with post-graduate education including the annual running of the Early Pregnancy and Gynaecological Ultrasound Interactive Courses for Sonologists, Radiologists, Sonographers and Gynaecologists in Australia.