31/10/2010 08:41 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Ectopic Pregnancy Test Could Save Women's Fertility

pregnant woman New test could save fertility. Photo: Stock.xchng, dtaioli

A new test to detect ectopic pregnancy early could be good news for the 11,000 or so women thought to be affected by the condition every year in the UK. Developed by scientists from Pennsylvania University in the US, the test could potentially save lives as well as protect the fertility of women who experience the condition.

Ectopic pregnancy is where a fertilised egg implants itself outside the womb (instead of inside), often in a Fallopian tube - one of the two tubes that connect the ovaries to the womb.

Many cases aren't spotted until the condition becomes life-threatening, at which point the Fallopian tube may have to be removed surgically along with the embryo, which halves a woman's chances of getting pregnant in the future. Around five women die each year in the UK as a result of ectopic pregnancy.

The problem is that current methods of diagnosis can be tricky and take weeks to verify - so by the time it's been confirmed, the only option for removing the embryo is to remove the tube too. If caught early, however, the embryo can be removed with drugs, so the tube stays intact.

In trials the new test, which looks for proteins in the blood, proved 99 of cases. And while that hardly sounds like a roaring success, it's still a huge step up from current methods, especially as the researchers claim the test could potentially give same-day results.

Have you ever suffered a problem that's affected your ability to have kids?

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