Ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy where the site of usual implantation gets deviated from uterus to fallopian tubes, risking the survival of the embryo, leading to an unsuccessful pregnancy. Hence, it becomes crucial to get it analyzed as early as possible and terminate it before it could harm woman’s body, while trying to progress further. During ectopic pregnancy, a woman may nearly get positive results on urine testing or at times, the results may be weakly positive too. For confirmation of ectopic pregnancy, a blood pregnancy test needs to be performed, which will be a sure positive for ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancies are mostly detected with help of combination of tests ranging from a pelvic exam, ultrasound analysis to blood tests for analysis of pregnancy hormones. These tests together provide the best diagnosis of a progressing ectopic pregnancy.
Various Tests For Detecting An Ectopic Pregnancy
A pelvic exam is performed to check for uterus tenderness, tenderness of fallopian tubes, an aggregated mass in the pelvic region or an inadequate expansion of uterus. In case of an ectopic pregnancy, the uterus tends to be much smaller than usual pregnancies, for several weeks after the last menses of the women and this can be easily analyzed with help of an internal pelvic examination. The presence of a tender swelling within the pelvic area is a sign of an ectopic pregnancy.
Women may need to undergo a pelvic ultrasound or a transvaginal ultrasound to check for any possibility of an ectopic pregnancy. In pelvic ultrasound, sound waves are used to focus and produce picture of internal structure or organs of the lower abdomen. Whereas in transvaginal ultrasound, the exact position of the pregnancy is being monitored. Normally, pregnancy developing in uterus is observable through ultrasound post 6 weeks of the last menstrual cycle and in case, there is no sign of fetus or embryo presence within the uterus, in spite of raised hCG levels, it is bound to be an ectopic pregnancy. An ultrasound scan is very crucial as it can easily help doctor to distinguish between different pregnancies variations like a continuing normal pregnancy within the womb, a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy.
Blood tests are performed after a gap of 48 hours to monitor change in human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (hCG) levels in the blood. In early weeks of pregnancy, hCG levels get doubled on every second day. In case, hCG levels are not increased as expected, then pregnancy is progressing abnormally and it could be the sign of either an ectopic pregnancy or a miscarriage. In case, hCG levels are severely low, a more detailed testing needs to be performed to understand the exact cause.
An ectopic pregnancy that has been progressed beyond 5 weeks can be diagnosed and treated using a laparoscope. It is a surgical way of analyzing an ectopic pregnancy and terminating it. But, this is not useful in early analysis of an ectopic pregnancy, as both blood pregnancy tests as well as ultrasound technique are known to very accurate in analyzing ectopic pregnancy at an early stage of pregnancy. After termination of an ectopic pregnancy, hCG levels are tested many times as the drop in its levels serve as the indicator of pregnancy termination. It may takes several weeks for hCG levels to drop down and till then, hormonal testing continues until the gynecologist is assured of full termination of the ectopic pregnancy.