New test can save women's fertility
Women who suffer an ectopic pregnancy could receive an earlier diagnosis and be more likely to have their fertility saved thanks to a new test developed by scientists.
The new type of blood screening could detect whether a baby is growing outside of the womb with higher accuracy than the conventional test.
An ectopic pregnancy is when a fertilised egg implants itself outside the womb, most often in the fallopian tube.
If the tube is ruptured, it can cause massive internal bleeding and death in rare cases. Fertility can also be affected.
Although ultrasound can often identify the problem, the embryo is sometimes too small to see in early pregnancy.
A blood test to measure levels of the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which is produced by placental tissue, can also take a long time to produce results.
The new test, developed by scientists in the US, checks for four key proteins in the blood.
It is not foolproof but is highly effective at distinguishing between ectopic and normal pregnancy in confirmed cases.
Experts carried out a trial on 100 women with ectopic pregnancy and 100 women with normally developing pregnancy.
Overall, a confirmed result was given in 42pc of cases. The test was able to distinguish between ectopic and normal pregnancy with 99pc accuracy.
Detecting an ectopic pregnancy early on means there is more chance of ending the pregnancy with drugs rather than surgery, which often leads to loss of the fallopian tube.