Ectopic pregnancy: 'classic' vs common presentation.
Ectopic pregnancies are common, are increasing in incidence, and are preventable causes of reproductive morbidity and death. They are also frequently misdiagnosed, and are one of the most common causes for malpractice claims made against primary care physicians. The classic description of the presenting signs and symptoms of ectopic pregnancy was derived from a series of ruptured ectopic pregnancies. To decrease the complications and preserve fertility, ectopic pregnancies must be detected before they cause tubal rupture. A family medicine center experience with the diagnosis of ectopic pregnancy over a six-month period is presented. The study confirmed the expected frequency of this condition in this population but findings disclosed that the classic presentation was, in fact, uncommon. Implications for decision making derived from these case reports are discussed. A high level of clinical suspicion for this problem must be maintained.
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