Distinguishing between Ectopic Pregnancy and Tubal Pregnancy

One of the most serious disorders that can occur during early pregnancy is the condition called tubal pregnancy.  Along with this term, there is another one that is commonly used for the said disorder – ectopic pregnancy.  It is worth distinguishing between these two terms.

There are occasional instances in early pregnancy when the united sex cells fail in making their way normally into the uterus.  Consequently, the unborn child begins its development in an area outside the uterus where the united sex cells happen to lodge.  This condition – in which a fertilized egg implants itself and develops elsewhere than in the uterus – is generally referred to as ectopic pregnancy.  In some cases, an ectopic pregnancy can occur in an ovary; in very rare cases, it may also develop in the abdomen.

The term tubal pregnancy, on the other hand, refers to a type of ectopic pregnancy in which a fertilized egg develops in one of the mother’s oviducts; the egg, in this case, failed to move down to the uterus.  One of the usual causes of tubal pregnancy is pelvic infection that results to the oviduct becoming narrowed or inflamed; the fertilized egg is unable to pass through the remaining part of the oviduct and on into the uterus.

It is necessary for a tubal pregnancy to be treated immediately, and surgery is the only satisfactory remedy in this case to prevent the oviduct from breaking or to stop bleeding from a tube that has already ruptured.  Consider this:  Unlike the tissues of the uterus, those of the oviducts are not designed to stretch; hence, after the first trimester of pregnancy, the unborn child has developed to such proportions that it causes the oviduct to break; the rupture, as a result, produces a serious hemorrhage; and without the required prompt surgery, the unborn child, finally, ceases to exist.

Abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding are the usual symptoms of tubal pregnancy.  The use of an Intrauterine device, or IUD (a device inserted into the uterus to prevent conception), poses certain risk since it can lead to pelvic infections.  Note, too, that scarring from endometriosis (the presence and growth of functioning endometrial tissue in areas other than the uterus that often causes severe pain and results in infertility) may likewise cause ectopic pregnancy.  Fortunately for those whose oviduct has been damaged or has to be surgically removed, a normal pregnancy is still possible later on.

Source: Kids Health (for parents) – http://kidshealth.org/parent/pregnancy_newborn/pregnancy/ectopic.html