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Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2009 Jun;33(6):711-5. doi: 10.1002/uog.6384.

Does tubal ectopic pregnancy with hemoperitoneum always require surgery?

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Nepean Centre for Perinatal Care, Nepean Clinical School, University of Sydney, Nepean Hospital, Penrith, Sydney, Australia.



Hemoperitoneum is accepted as an indication for surgery in women with tubal ectopic pregnancy. The aim of this pilot study was to evaluate the feasibility of managing such women non-surgically.


This was a prospective observational study. Women with tubal ectopic pregnancy and hemoperitoneum detected on transvaginal sonography (TVS) were managed as inpatients either expectantly or with methotrexate (MTX). Inclusion criteria for conservative management were: compliance, clinical stability, absence of acute abdomen, stable hemoglobin level on two measurements (0 and 12-24 h apart), serum human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) < 5000 IU/L, absence of fetal cardiac activity on TVS and absence of significant hemoperitoneum, defined as blood above the level of the uterine fundus and/or in Morison's pouch (hepatorenal space). Subsequent management was based upon the hCG ratio at 48 h. All the women were managed as inpatients until the abdominal pain settled and the serum hCG levels were falling.


Forty-one women with tubal ectopic pregnancy presented between November 2006 and March 2008. Eight women (20%) fulfilled the entry criteria. The median gestational age at diagnosis was 49 (interquartile range, 38-52.5) days. All women presented with lower abdominal pain/right iliac fossa or left iliac fossa pain. Hemoglobin levels ranged from 11.2 to 14.2 g/dL at presentation and from 12.0 to 14.8 g/dL after 12-24 h. 6/8 (75%) women were managed expectantly and 2/8 (25%) received MTX. All women had resolution of their ectopic pregnancy within 3 weeks with no complications.


This pilot study suggests that the finding of hemoperitoneum on ultrasound examination may not be an absolute contraindication to conservative management of tubal ectopic pregnancy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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