Our last exams of the semester are finally here. Although they may not be exciting, it sure is nice to know there is a vacation only one week away.
Most recently we have focused our attention on the pelvic cavity and perineum in anatomy. This highly compact region holds an extensive network of veins, arteries and nerves that nourish organs of the reproductive, urinary and gastrointestinal systems. At first it seemed to be a mess of structures running this way and that with occasional stops at an organ or muscle. Now after hours of dissection, review and reading I think I have a better grasp on this intricate part of the body. While in the cadaver lab late at night and well into the next morning, my mind turned to those who have shared their bodies with us that we might be better physicians...if they only knew how much knowledge they have imparted.
I continually think of how lucky some of us are; to be in a healthy state is quite a feat. There are many problems that could arise during embryological development causing complications that would alter life, if it was even sustainable in the first place. The combination of embryology and the life giving organs of the body go hand in hand. It is amazing how everything works in concert to produce the person we see in the mirror.
Ectopic refers to a congenital displacement and in this case it is the fetus that has not implanted in the uterine wall. In the uterine (Fallopian) tube, the woman's egg will be fertilized by the sperm. Normally, they implant on the wall of the uterus to develop over the next nine months. When the fertilized egg implants itself elsewhere, it is considered ectopic.
Common sites of implantation include the lining of the uterine tubes, ovaries, the abdominal cavity or even the lower inner portion of the uterus. Depending on the location, it can be difficult to diagnose as ultrasounds are not always clear. Pain can result which often brings the mother to find medical help. This condition is a medical emergency as it can rupture the maternal organs or other structures within the abdominal cavity. Hemorrhaging (excessive bleeding) is possible, but the greater concern is for the mother's reproductive organs. Once they are damaged, it is likely that they must be removed and thus the likelihood of fertility decreases.
Rare cases have been reported where the fetus has grown to full term and been delivered. Although the causes are not fully understood, it is thought that damage to the uterine tubes may lead to an increased incidence of ectopic pregnancies. (Books to consider :Ectopic Pregnancy, Pregnancy)