Ectopic Pregnancy - Medical Negligence Compensation Claim Solicitors


Ectopic means 'displaced' and, when referring to pregnancy, it indicates a newly formed embryo implanted itself outside the uterus (womb). Most ectopic pregnancies result from the embryo implanting in the fallopian tube, (the mechanism by which the eggs are transported to the uterus), but ectopic pregnancy can also occur in the ovaries (where the eggs are formed and stored), the abdomen and the cervix (the entrance to the womb). An ectopic pregnancy is a potentially dangerous situation for the mother.

Serious damage, with life threatening consequences, can occur as a result of delay in diagnosis or failure to adequately treat an ectopic pregnancy which is a life threatening situation. If you have suffered at the hands of a careless healthcare practitioner you should contact a medical negligence solicitor who will take a detailed statement after consideration of your medical records and will obtain medical opinions from experienced clinicians. Our medical negligence solicitors operate the no win no fee* scheme otherwise known as a conditional fee agreement. If you would like advice from a specialist medical negligence solicitor at no cost and without further obligation just use the helpline or contact our offices by email.


The normal passage of a fertilised egg (also known as a zygote) is travelling down the fallopian tube to the uterus, where it then implants and gathers nourishment. However, if, for some reason, the fertilised egg cannot pass through the fallopian tube due to a narrowing, scarring or obstruction, it will implant into the wall of the fallopian tube and begin to form into an embryo. This can cause the wall of the tube to stretch and, possibly, burst, and it then becomes a medical emergency which can possibly result in death.

Ectopic Pregnancy Symptoms

The difficulty with diagnosing an ectopic pregnancy is the mother does not necessarily know she is pregnant. It is for this reason that any woman of childbearing age is given a pregnancy test when presenting with abdominal pain. Another difficulty is that there are women who do not experience pain in the early stages of ectopic pregnancy; therefore, symptoms may not appear until the fallopian tube has become so badly damaged that removal may be required.

Early symptoms include:

  • Lower abdominal pain or cramps.
  • Discomfort while urinating.
  • Pain during a bowel movement.
  • Unusual vaginal bleeding.

Later symptoms include:

  • Heavy vaginal bleeding.
  • Internal haemorrhaging causing severe pain.
  • Serious abdominal, lower back and/or pelvic pain.
  • Pain in the shoulders due to an abdominal haemorrhage making its way up to the diaphragm. At this stage, this symptom indicates a life threatening situation.

Sometimes it is difficult to decide what is causing the symptoms of a woman suffering an ectopic abortion as signs can be confused with other conditions, such as gastroenteritis, appendicitis and urinary tract infections.


The most common diagnosis for ectopic pregnancy is a simple pregnancy test. This, combined with the presenting symptoms, will confirm the cause and, then, with the aid of ultrasound equipment, the extent can be analysed and action taken to prevent further harm. If the ultrasound is inconclusive, then a laparoscopy or laparotomy can be performed to determine the whereabouts of the zygote.


Many cases of ectopic pregnancy are resolved naturally; however, when medical intervention is necessary, the preferred method is using a drug called 'methotrexate. This is a toxic substance which halts the growth of the embryo and either aborts it with the next menstrual cycle or the body re-absorbs it. The emergency option is surgery. This can mostly be usually performed with minimal damage to the fallopian tube via a laparoscopy or a laparotomy, but there are occasions where the fallopian tube and the embryo have to be removed together.


An ectopic pregnancy can result in infertility. This often occurs if surgery was performed to remove an embryo. However, if it was naturally aborted at a very early stage or medication was prescribed before too much damage occurred, then normal fertility will often return.

On a final note, there have been cases, albeit, very rare, of successful ectopic pregnancies resulting in normal births, but they are few and far between.


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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here