If a doctor diagnoses an ectopic pregnancy early, the typical treatment is a methotrexate injection, which halts cellular growth in the fertilized egg, according to Mayo Clinic. Afterward, the doctor monitors human chorionic gonadotropin, or HCG, hormones in the woman's blood to determine whether another injection is necessary. If the pregnancy has progressed or the mother meets certain risk factors, the doctor may perform laparoscopic surgery by making an abdominal incision and using a laparoscope to clear away ectopic tissue.
A laparoscope allows the doctor to view the reproductive organs with a camera and insert surgical instruments to collect cells, explains Mayo Clinic. A woman may need a laparotomy if the pregnancy causes a ruptured fallopian tube or excessive bleeding. Depending on the severity, the fallopian tube may be repaired or removed. HCG monitoring is often necessary after surgery to make sure no ectopic tissue remains. Women can continue to have healthy pregnancies after an ectopic pregnancy, and in vitro fertilization remains an option for women who suffer serious damage to both fallopian tubes.
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg doesn't attach to the uterine lining and either stays in the fallopian tube or attaches to another organ, such as the ovaries or cervix, reports WebMD. It may also rest at the cornua of the uterus — the area where it meets a fallopian tube. In most cases, doctors must terminate an ectopic pregnancy for the mother's safety. A woman has a higher risk of developing an ectopic pregnancy if she has a sexually transmitted disease, an intrauterine device, a fallopian tube abnormality or a history of pelvic inflammatory disease.