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Obstet Gynecol. 2006 Feb;107(2 Pt 2):439-41.

A cautionary tale: fatal outcome of methotrexate therapy given for management of ectopic pregnancy.

Author information

  • 1Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology-Oncology, School of Medicine, The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599, USA.

Erratum in

  • Obstet Gynecol. 2006 May;107(5):1171.



Medical therapy with methotrexate is a standard practice for the commonly encountered problem of ectopic pregnancy. Methotrexate is excreted predominantly by the kidney and should be used with extreme caution in renal insufficiency. All physicians who administer methotrexate must understand its mechanism of action, distribution, and elimination to minimize potential risks to the patient.


A young, dialysis-dependent woman received a standard dose of methotrexate for an ectopic pregnancy. Prolonged methotrexate exposure resulted. The consequences-pancytopenia, desquamation, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and profound bowel ischemia-ultimately led to her death.


Methotrexate, even at extremely low doses, can be fatal in patients with renal insufficiency. Alternative means of therapy should be sought for women with ectopic pregnancy and renal failure.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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