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Emergency Department Discharge Instructions

Ectopic pregnancy possibility

Category

Pregnancy

Emergency Care Discharge Instructions

Instruction summary

An ectopic pregnancy, also called a “tubal pregnancy,” is a pregnancy that is developing in an area outside of the uterus (the organ where babies normally grow). When there is a pregnancy in the uterus, the uterus can expand to many times its original size to make room for the growing embryo. Ectopic pregnancies usually occur in the tubes of the uterus. The ovarian tubes are not as stretchy as the uterus itself, and the tube can break open or rupture if there is a pregnancy growing inside it. Rupture can be life-threatening for the woman.

After you have left the ER, if an ectopic pregnancy wasn’t confirmed on ultrasound, you will need a second ultrasound. The repeat ultrasound may confirm the location of the pregnancy in patients who had an initial ultrasound that didn’t show very much (i.e. it was too early to see very well). If this hasn’t already been booked, you need to book an appointment with your obstetrician or family physician, as soon as possible. Tell your obstetrician’s or family physician’s office staff that you were seen in the ER for a possible ectopic pregnancy.

Reasons to return to the ER
  1. Worsening abdominal pain, or new abdominal pain
  2. Feeling light-headed
  3. Heavy vaginal bleeding (soaking through more than 1 pad/hour)
  4. Fever (≥38.0 °C or 100.4 °F)