Interventions for tubal ectopic pregnancy

P. J. Hajenius, B. W. Mol, P. M. Bossuyt, W. M. Ankum, F. Van Der Veen

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172 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: The diagnosis of ectopic pregnancy can now often be made by non-invasive methods due to sensitive pregnancy tests (in urine and serum) and high resolution transvaginal sonography, which have been integrated in diagnostic algorithms. These algorithms, in combination with the increased awareness and knowledge of risk factors among both clinicians and patients, have enabled an early and accurate diagnosis of ectopic pregnancy. As a consequence, the clinical presentation of ectopic pregnancy has changed from a life threatening disease to a more benign condition. This in turn has resulted in major changes in the options available for therapeutic management. Many treatment options are now available to the clinician in the treatment of tubal pregnancy: surgical treatment, which can be performed radically or conservatively, either laparoscopically or by an open surgical procedure; medical treatment, with a variety of drugs, that can be administered systemically and/or locally by different routes (transvaginally under sonographic guidance or under laparoscopic guidance); expectant management. The choice of a treatment modality should be based on short-term outcome measures (primary treatment success and reinterventions for clinical symptoms or persistent trophoblast) and on long-term outcome measures (tubal patency and future fertility). OBJECTIVES: In the treatment of tubal pregnancy various types of treatments are available: surgical treatment, medical treatment and expectant management. In this review the effects of various treatments are summarized in terms of treatment success, need for reinterventions, tubal patency and future fertility. SEARCH STRATEGY: The Cochrane Menstrual Disorders and Subfertility Group trials register and MEDLINE were searched. SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomized controlled trials comparing treatments in women with ectopic pregnancy. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Trial quality was assessed and data extracted independently by two reviewers. Differences were resolved by discussion with all reviewers. MAIN RESULTS: Laparoscopic conservative surgery is significantly less successful than the open surgical approach in the elimination of tubal pregnancy due to a higher persistent trophoblast rate of laparoscopic surgery. Long term follow-up shows similar tubal patency rates, whereas the number of subsequent intrauterine pregnancies is comparable, and the number of repeat ectopic pregnancies lower, although these differences are not statistically significant. The laparoscopic approach is less costly as a result of significantly less blood loss and analgesic requirement, and a shorter duration of operation time, hospital stay, and convalescence time. Compared to laparoscopic conservative surgery (salpingostomy) local methotrexate is not a treatment option. Injection of this drug, both under laparoscopic guidance and under ultrasound guidance, is significantly less successful in the elimination of tubal pregnancy. Systemic methotrexate in a single dose intramuscular regimen is not effective enough in eliminating the tubal pregnancy compared to laparoscopic salpingostomy. This as a result of inadequately declining serum hCG concentrations after one single dose of methotrexate necessitating additional methotrexate injections or surgical interventions. If methotrexate primarily given in a multiple dose intramuscular regimen is compared with laparoscopic salpingostomy no large differences are found in medical outcomes, both short term and long term. However, this treatment regimen is associated with a greater impairment of health related quality of life and is more expensive, due to surgical interventions for clinical signs of tubal rupture, generating additional direct costs due to prolonged hospital stay. Furthermore, indirect costs due to productivity loss are higher. Only in patients with low initial serum hCG concentrations systemic methotrexate leads to costs savings compared to laparoscopic salpingostomy.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages110
JournalCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2000
Externally publishedYes

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