What Is An Ectopic Pregnancy?
A pregnancy is ectopic (meaning ‘misplaced’) when it occurs outside the uterus (womb). The most common place for an ectopic pregnancy, is within the fallopian tubes. Sadly, this means the baby cannot be saved.
As the fertilised egg continues to grow outside of the womb, a woman can suffer a number of complications. Eventually, this may lead to the rupture of the fallopian tube – causing heavy, and potentially fatal, internal bleeding.
Notable symptoms include:
- Vaginal bleeding, which is often different to the bleeding of a period in some characteristics (heavier, lighter, darker bleeding, etc.)
- Pain on one side of the lower abdomen which may either develop sharply, or slowly worsen, frequently becoming severe.
- Shoulder-tip pain may develop due to blood leaking into the abdomen and irritating the diaphragm (the muscle used to breathe).
- Consistently feeling faint
- Pain when emptying the bowels.
Symptoms can develop at any time between week 4 and 10 of pregnancy, and the woman may not even be aware that she is pregnant. A common mistake is that the symptoms are just a late period.
However, not all women will experience symptoms, and sometimes an ectopic pregnancy may only be diagnosed when a scan fails to locate the presence of the foetus in the womb.
If you’ve been diagnosed, get in touch with us today to launch a no win, no fee ectopic pregnancy compensation claim. Call us on 01204 521 133, request a callback using one of the on-site forms, or give us a message on live chat.
Am I at risk of having an Ectopic Pregnancy?
Any sexually active woman can be at risk. In the UK alone, there are around 10,700 instances each year. Nonetheless, there are risk factors believed to increase a woman’s likelihood:
- Previous history of an ectopic pregnancy
- Damaged, scarred or kinked fallopian tubes
- If the Coil is used as a method of contraception
- The use of some types of infertility treatment
- Being over the age of 35
If you are in any of the above groups, and believe you may be pregnant, it is important to book an appointment with your GP early on. Tests can detect pregnancy as early as 7-8 days after fertilisation, which may be before your period is even due. Symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy are most likely to show between the fifth and tenth weeks of pregnancy. And it is reasonable for a doctor to have made a diagnosis during this time.
How is an Ectopic Pregnancy confirmed?
If you have symptoms, you should be treated in hospital immediately. An ectopic pregnancy is most commonly confirmed by one or all of the following:
- A urine test
- An ultrasound scan (though results may be unclear if the pregnancy is in its very early stages)
- Blood tests which show changes in the pregnancy hormones
What are the treatment options?
- Surgery –If your opposite tube is healthy, surgeons will usually remove the whole tube, to spare any future complications. However if there is damage to the other tube, they will try to only remove the section of the tube containing the ectopic pregnancy.
- Medical treatment– A medicine called methotrexate is administered, as an injection. It stops the cells of the pregnancy growing in the Fallopian tube. There will be several follow up appointments to monitor the pregnancy after this, for hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin). This will be every 2-3 days until levels are low, with scans repeated weekly. Methotrexate can cause side-effects, which include nausea and vomiting, in some women. Abdominal pains commonly develop 3-7 days after having methotrexate.
- Expectancy (‘wait and see’) – Not all ectopic pregnancies are life threatening or pose risks to the mother. In many cases, the ectopic pregnancy resolves by itself with no future problems.
A gynaecologist is trusted to best advise the treatment method.
When Can I Make A Claim for Ectopic Pregnancy Misdiagnosis/Negligence?
There may be grounds for a clinical negligence claim for an ectopic pregnancy misdiagnosis if you feel the treatment provided was incorrect and/or inappropriate.
Some of the ways in which this happens are as follows:-
- Symptoms are presented, but an ectopic pregnancy misdiagnosis still occurs;
- Symptoms are presented, but no further tests are carried out;
- Ectopic pregnancy is diagnosed but treatment is delayed, causing complications.
- A routine scan fails to find the foetus in the womb, no further tests are conducted.
The above list is not exhaustive. Surgical termination carries with it the usual risks of surgery and recovery.
Our guide on ectopic pregnancy was written to provide facts about the true occurrence of ectopic pregnancies, including popular case studies, symptoms, causes, and advice on coping following the experience.
As with any claim, you may be worried about the potential costs of pursuing your clinical negligence case. To address this common concern, we have devised a variety of options to help you. We give you all the assistance that you are entitled to, whilst managing any resulting compensation in the most beneficial way possible. We must remind you to be quick however, as there are time limits in place for making claims of this kind.
We deal with medical negligence claims on a day in, day out. If you are suffering as a result of substandard treatment, you may be eligible to make a claim. Our Medical Negligence Solicitors will work to gather all of the appropriate paperwork and documentation, whilst speaking to the parties involved, to support your claim.