RCOG revised guideline aims to reduce ectopic pregnancy related deaths

Early diagnosis and the appropriate treatment of the different types of ectopic pregnancies is essential in further reducing the number of women who lose their lives from the condition, according to a revised guideline released today.

The guideline, issued by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and the Association of Early Pregnancy Units (APEU), provides evidence-based information on the diagnosis and management of ectopic pregnancies – including the treatment options available – and the level of support that should be offered to women.

It also offers reassurances to women who have experienced an ectopic pregnancy and are worried about their future fertility. The guideline states that, in the absence of a history of subfertility or tubal pathology, there is no difference in the rate of fertility, or risk of future tubal ectopic pregnancy, between the different management methods.

Janine Elson, lead author of the guideline, said: “Ectopic pregnancies can be life-threatening so it is important women seek help immediately if they are experiencing symptoms.
“Each woman copes in her own way, but it is important that she feels supported. The guidelines reinforce that women undergoing treatment should be made aware of how to access support via patient support groups, such as the Ectopic Pregnancy Trust, or local bereavement counselling services.”

Edward Morris, RCOG vice-president for clinical quality, said: “We hope this guideline will support healthcare professionals in correctly diagnosing ectopic pregnancies and offering treatment options to women, who should be advised, whenever possible, of the advantages and disadvantages associated with each approach. “The updated patient information that accompanies the guideline will also help women to better understand an ectopic pregnancy and the choices they have, should they be faced with this situation.”

Six deaths were reported as a result of ectopic pregancies between 2006 and 2008 but the number of deaths has fallen in recent years, suggesting that earlier diagnosis and treatment may have made an impact.