Spontaneous resolution of ectopic tubal pregnancy: natural history

Fertil Steril. 1995 Jan;63(1):15-9. doi: 10.1016/s0015-0282(16)57289-6.


Objective: To determine the characteristics and long-term outcome of women succeeding or failing expectant management of ectopic pregnancy (EP).

Design: Prospective, defined protocol.

Setting: University-affiliated gynecology department.

Patients: We used a protocol that selected women with laparoscopic confirmed ectopic tubal pregnancy and declining plasma hCG values. Over a 5-year period, 60 women representing 20.1% of EPs fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Women were followed with serial hCG testing and transvaginal ultrasound.

Main outcome measure: Success or failure of expectant management.

Results: Expectant management was successful in 28 (47.7%) of the patients. Thirty-two (53.3%) failed expectant management, and a treatment procedure was required. There was no difference in the resultant ipsilateral tubal patency or 1-year fertility rates of those women succeeding or failing expectant management. Analysis showed that in the face of declining values and with a starting hCG > 2,000 mIU/mL (conversion to SI unit, 1.00), 93.3% failed expectant management, whereas < 2,000 mIU/mL, 60.0% succeeded.

Conclusion: We conclude that expectant management should be offered as a treatment option only in those women fulfilling the criteria for a good prognosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adnexa Uteri / diagnostic imaging
  • Chorionic Gonadotropin / blood
  • Fallopian Tube Patency Tests
  • Female
  • Fertility
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Ectopic / diagnostic imaging
  • Pregnancy, Ectopic / physiopathology*
  • Pregnancy, Ectopic / therapy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Ultrasonography


  • Chorionic Gonadotropin