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Woman Gives Birth in a Rare Abdominal Ectopic Pregnancy

Ultrasonography showing rare abdominal ectopic pregnancy
Ultrasonography showing rare abdominal ectopic pregnancy. Credit: Dahab AA et al. / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.5

A woman had been dealing with belly pain for ten days before showing up to the emergency room in France. The doctors suspected something unusual after examining her. As it turned out, she was in the second part of a rare ectopic pregnancy, and the baby was growing in her belly rather than inside the womb. This recent case was reported in The New England Journal of Medicine.

What is an ectopic pregnancy?

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg attaches itself somewhere other than the uterus. It happens in about two percent of pregnancies. Usually, it occurs in the tubes that connect the ovaries to the uterus, but in about one percent of cases, the embryo implants itself in the belly.

The problem with ectopic pregnancies is that they can’t proceed to full term, which is around thirty-seven to forty-one weeks in normal pregnancies. This is because the baby doesn’t have the right support or enough space to grow.

Furthermore, these pregnancies are dangerous for the woman carrying the baby because the egg can burst the organ it is attached to, causing heavy bleeding and infection. The usual way to handle this is to either remove the pregnancy with surgery or use drugs to keep it from developing any further.

Earlier pregnancies of the woman

Prior to this, the woman had given birth to two full term babies and had one miscarriage. When doctors did an ultrasound, it showed that the lining of her uterus had thickened, which is normal during both a woman’s menstrual cycle and pregnancies.

Strangely, however, there was no baby inside her uterus. Instead, as determined by doctors, the baby had been growing in her belly for twenty-three weeks. A special scan called magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed that the baby was growing normally and was connected to a placenta attached to the lining of the belly just above the base of the woman’s spine.

Since the woman was at high risk of heavy bleeding, she was transferred to a special hospital where she could be closely monitored during the last weeks of her pregnancy.

Delivery of the baby

Six weeks later, during a laparotomy, doctors opened her belly and delivered the baby, which was immediately taken to a special care unit for premature infants. During the first operation, doctors removed part of the placenta, and in a second procedure, the rest was removed.

After twenty-five days of giving birth, the woman left the hospital, and about a month later, she was able to take the baby home. The report mentions that she was then “lost to follow-up,” meaning the doctors don’t have any further information about what happened to her and the baby after they left the healthcare facility.

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