Unfortunately, there’s no way to save a tubular, or ectopic, pregnancy. The term ectopic means “out of place,” and ectopic pregnancies occur when a fertilized egg implants itself somewhere outside of a woman’s uterus, usually in one of the Fallopian tubes. If left untreated, the growing egg will eventually rupture and cause internal bleeding–which can lead to death. Treatment will vary depending on the size and location of the ectopic tissue and how early the pregnancy is detected.
According to the National Library of Medicine, more than 1 in every 100 pregnancies are ectopic pregnancies. Among those ectopic pregnancies, more than 95 percent occur in a woman’s two fallopian tubes–though ectopic pregnancies can take place in other places in a woman’s body, including the cervix or an ovary. Ectopic pregnancies are usually caused by inflammation or scarring in the Fallopian tubes, though certain birth defects can also increase a woman’s risk of a tubular pregnancy.
A tubular pregnancy cannot come to term. In order to save the mother’s life, the developing cells must be removed from her body, because there is no way to transfer the fertilized egg to the uterus. The growing fetus cannot survive an ectopic pregnancy, though the outlook is typically good for the mother. According to the National Library of Medicine website, the death rate for women in the U.S. with an ectopic pregnancy is less than 0.1 percent.
If detected early, a tubular pregnancy can often be treated with an injection of methotrexate. The methotrexate drug disrupts the growth of the embryo and allows the body to absorb or expel the ectopic tissue. Side effects from this treatment can include abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding. According to a 2006 study conducted by the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), the success rate for methotrexate injections is about 80 percent. Methotrexate is also used to treat some types of cancer and autoimmune diseases.
Surgery may be required if the pregnancy has grown too large, if it’s located outside the Fallopian tubes or if the mother shows signs of internal bleeding. The PIMS study concluded that more than half of all ectopic pregnancies require surgery. Often, the ectopic tissue can be removed laparoscopically; this is a less invasive surgical procedure in which the ectopic tissue is removed through small incisions in the abdomen. If the condition is more severe, all or part of the Fallopian tubes may have to be surgically removed.
Because the presence of scar tissue in the Fallopian tubes is a common cause of tubular pregnancies, these pregnancies can sometimes be prevented by reducing your risk of tubal inflammation or scarring. Risk factors can include having multiple sex partners, contracting an STD and having sex without using a condom–all of which can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease and scar the Fallopian tubes.