A bedside, non-invasive, simple test that could help rule out ectopic pregnancy?


As promised, each Thursday, we will now offer you a piece of educational, science, or research-related information.  The purpose of our #ThursdayThoughts post is to share with you fact-based content that can enlighten and assist you on your fertility journey.  Enjoy our post! Helping to Create New Beginnings….

A bedside, non-invasive, simple test that could help rule out ectopic pregnancy?

An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that occurs outside of the uterus, commonly inside of a fallopian tube. It can be very dangerous if not treated.  At times it can be difficult to tell if a patient has an ectopic pregnancy. One of the more common presentations of ectopic pregnancy is bleeding in early pregnancy, however, this can also occur during a normal pregnancy.  Oftentimes we will request patients with bleeding to come into the office for an ultrasound, as this can often confirm the location of the pregnancy. There is a small chance that someone can have an intrauterine pregnancy as well as an ectopic, but this is rare. When we do not see a definite uterine pregnancy, blood levels of pregnancy hormone are obtained and a Karman biopsy can be performed. A Karman biopsy is a biopsy of uterine tissue and can help rule out ectopic pregnancy.

A recent study was done using a test that checks for alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) levels in vaginal blood. The study checked for AFP in patients undergoing miscarriage, diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy, and patients who were having non-pregnancy related vaginal bleeding. The test found no AFP in all the samples that came from ectopic pregnancies. It detected AFP in all the samples of patients undergoing D&C or having miscarriages.  There was one instance that AFP was detected in a non-pregnant patient. (Michelle Volosky, MBBS, et al. Fertility and Sterility. Vol 116, 2021 September; Issue 3: pages E6-E7)

In conclusion, the test was able to accurately detect AFP, therefore showing the presence of fetal tissue, in vaginal blood. This test could provide an important but simple, non-invasive way to rule out ectopic pregnancy in a patient with a pregnancy of an unknown location. This was a fairly small study and more research needs to be done but it is a promising start.  

For more information regarding evaluation and treatment options that are available, please schedule an appointment with one of our providers at the Fertility Institute of Hawaii 808-545-2800 or visit our website at https://www.ivfcenterhawaii.com

ectopic pregnancy test

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