Nov 06, 2013 8:00 AM

Author: Marissa Villasenor


After announcing her pregnancy last month, singer Vanessa Carlton revealed on her Facebook page that she was diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy and underwent emergency surgery to remove her right fallopian tube.

A tubal pregnancy, or more commonly known as an ectopic pregnancy, happens when a fertilized egg gets stuck on its way to the uterus, often because the fallopian tube is inflamed, damaged or misshaped. Sometimes, the specific cause of an ectopic pregnancy remains a mystery.

According to the singer, doctors caught the problem relatively early. Her medical team started treatment with Methotrexate, a mild chemotherapy, with hopes of shrinking the pregnancy and saving her right fallopian tube. “Despite our best efforts, my tube started to rupture and I was experiencing internal bleeding,” said Carlton. “My doctor performed a successful surgery and removed my entire right fallopian tube.”

The A Thousand Miles singer had to cancel her upcoming concert tour to recover. In some cases, an ectopic pregnancy can be fatal.  “If left untreated, an ectopic pregnancy can cause rupture of the fallopian tube that leads to life-threatening hemorrhage," said Erin A. S. Clark, MD, a physician in the University of Utah Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “Women diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy generally undergo medical or surgical treatment because the risk of rupture and subsequent morbidity or mortality is very high without intervention.”

It’s estimated that 20 in every 1,000 pregnancies are ectopic. Various factors are associated with ectopic pregnancy, including:previous ectopic pregnancy, previous fallopian tube or other pelvic surgeries, infertility, and previous pelvic infection.  Some women with ectopic pregnancy have no known risk factors.

Early treatment of an ectopic pregnancy can help set the stage for future healthy pregnancies.


Marissa Villasenor

Marissa Villasenor is a public relations specialist at University of Utah Health Care. Follow her on Twitter: @Marivillasenor

pregnancy high-risk pregnancy

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