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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 22  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 185-188

Primary ovarian pregnancy mimicking abdominal pregnancy

1 From the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria
2 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University College Hospital, Ibadan, Nigeria
3 From the Department of Pathology, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria

Date of Web Publication30-Nov-2015

Correspondence Address:
O O Ogunbode
From the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Ibadan
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1117-1936.170739

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The objectives of this study were to emphasise that ectopic pregnancy (EP) can occasionally occur in rare sites such as the ovary, and to show that it may be difficult making the diagnosis clinically and radiologically. It also highlighted the benefit of early surgical intervention in reducing mortality and morbidity from this condition. The case was a 31-year-old nulliparous woman who presented with amenorrhoea of 20 weeks and a 2-month history of lower abdominal pain. Radiological studies suggested abdominal pregnancy coexisting with uterine fibroids for which she had an exploratory laparotomy, which revealed a primary right ovarian pregnancy necessitating the performance of right ovariectomy. Locating the sites of EP may still pose a diagnostic challenge. Despite the benefits and reliability of ultrasound scanning, there will still be situations where the definitive diagnosis can only be confirmed at surgery.

Keywords: Amenorrhoea, laparotomy, ovarian, pregnancy, ultrasound

How to cite this article:
Ogunbode O O, Aremu O O, Okolo C A. Primary ovarian pregnancy mimicking abdominal pregnancy. Niger Postgrad Med J 2015;22:185-8

How to cite this URL:
Ogunbode O O, Aremu O O, Okolo C A. Primary ovarian pregnancy mimicking abdominal pregnancy. Niger Postgrad Med J [serial online] 2015 [cited 2023 Feb 1];22:185-8. Available from: https://www.npmj.org/text.asp?2015/22/3/185/170739

  Introduction Top

Ectopic pregnancy (EP) is an important health problem that has been described worldwide but causes greater harm in the developing countries where it is often not diagnosed early due to the late presentation of other factors.[1] EP is said to occur whenever there is implantation of a fertilised ovum outside the endometrial lining of the uterus.[2] It is a life-threatening condition, which is more common in the reproductive age group and invariably results into foetal death.[2],[3] Its incidence across all populations ranges from 0.4% to 2%, but with a reduction in case fatality rates over the years.[4],[5],[6] It is one of the most common gynaecological emergencies, a major cause of maternal morbidity and accounts for 10–15% of maternal demise.[1],[5],[7],[8]

Various risk factors for EP had been reported and some of these include a history of pelvic infections, previous pelvic or tubal surgery, endometriosis, pelvic adhesions, in utero exposure to diethylstilbestrol, congenital abnormalities of the  Fallopian tube More Detailss, use of progestogen only pills, intrauterine contraceptive devices and more recently the increased availability of assisted reproductive technique services.[9] It must be noted, however, that it can occur in the absence of any risk factor.[4] The most common site of an EP is the fallopian tubes which accounts for over 95% of cases.[2],[7] Other less common sites include the abdominal cavity, ovary, cervix, broad ligament and rudimentary horn.[10]

Primary ovarian pregnancy is a rare form of EP accounting for 0.5–3% of all ectopic gestations.[10],[11],[12] The incidence ranges from 1 in 40,000 to 1 in 7000 deliveries.[11],[13],[14],[15] Unlike tubal pregnancy, ovarian pregnancy is neither associated with pelvic inflammatory disease or infertility.[15],[16] The most common risk factor associated with ovarian pregnancy is the use of intrauterine device and multiparity.[10],[16],[17] Although a rarity, ovarian pregnancy has been documented among patients undergoing assisted reproductive technique, after bilateral tubal ligation and in primigravid pregnancy.[18],[19],[20]

Preoperative diagnosis is challenging, but ultrasound, especially transvaginal scanning is helpful in diagnosis.[10],[16] Diagnostic delay may lead to a rupture, secondary implantation, operative difficulties and maternal death, therefore, awareness of this rare condition is important in reducing the associated morbidities. We report a case of primary ovarian pregnancy presenting with recurrent lower abdominal pain.

  Case Report Top

A. D. a 31-year-old gravida 3 para 0+2 woman was referred from a General Hospital. She presented with 20 weeks amenorrhoea and a 2-month history of recurrent lower abdominal pain which was insidious in onset. There was no relieving or aggravating factor. The patient had two previous pregnancies that were both voluntarily terminated at the gestational age of about 8 weeks. There were no postabortal sequelae. She never used any form of the contraceptive device. She had an abdominopelvic ultrasound scan (USS) done prior to the presentation that was suggestive of abdominal pregnancy.

At presentation, the general examination was essentially normal. Examination of the respiratory and cardiovascular systems were also normal. The abdomen moved with respiration and there was some tenderness in the suprapubic region. There was a 20 cm by 20 cm intra-abdominal mass involving the umbilical and suprapubic region. Her routine haematological and biochemical tests were within normal limits. A repeat abdominopelvic USS performed while on admission was suggestive of abdominal pregnancy and uterine leiomyoma [Figure 1]. She had exploratory laparotomy on April 14, 2013. At surgery, there was a gestational sac containing a live female foetus at the right ovarian fossa. The right ovary, placenta and membrane were attached to the right ovarian ligament, while the right fallopian tube was grossly normal. The left fallopian tube and ovary showed no abnormality. The uterus was 12-week size and enlarged with uterine fibroids. There was no haemoperitoneum. Right ovariectomy and myomectomy were done and specimens were sent for histopathological examination [Figure 2]. Her postoperative period was uncomplicated and she was discharged home on the 4th postoperative day. She was given an appointment for follow-up at the outpatients gynaecology unit and counselled on the need to present early in her next pregnancy.
Figure 1: Ultrasound scan suggesting abdominal pregnancy

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Figure 2: The right ovary and fibroid nodules including the attachment of the foetus to the ovary

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The histology report revealed on gross examination, a well-formed female foetus with crown-rump length of 21 cm and crown-heel length of 30 cm corresponding to 24–25 weeks of intrauterine life. The foetus was connected to the placenta via the umbilical cord [Figure 2]. The placenta measured 14 cm × 11 cm × 8 cm. Cut sections of the placenta showed greyish brown appearance with a rim of greyish white tissue at the periphery. The foetus showed widening of the third interdigital space of the right foot. There was scoliosis of the spine. Microscopic examination of the umbilical cord showed a normal pair of the umbilical artery and an umbilical vein. Sections of the placenta showed chorionic villi of varying shapes and sizes and scanty deciduas areas of haemorrhages. These chorionic villi were attached to an ovarian tissue. The overall features were in keeping with ectopic ovarian gestation. The fibroid nodules enucleated intraoperatively were also confirmed on histology.

  Discussion Top

Primary ovarian pregnancy is rare. The first case was reported in 1682 by St. Maurice.[21] Ovarian pregnancy can be classified as primary or secondary. It is called primary ovarian pregnancy when the ovum is fertilised while still within the follicle.[22] Secondary ovarian pregnancy occurs when fertilisation takes place in the fallopian tube and the conceptus is subsequently implanted in the ovarian stroma.[22] The classification into primary and secondary ovarian pregnancy has no bearing on the management as both are managed similarly.[20]

The diagnosis of ovarian pregnancy is as established by the Spiegelberg criteria as far back as 1878.[23] The criteria includes four components that are: (a) Intact ipsilateral tube, clearly separate from the ovary; (b) gestational sac occupying the position of the ovary; (c) sac connected to the uterus by the ovarian ligament; and (d) histologically proven ovarian tissue located in the sac wall. Our patient, Mrs. O. B from the surgical findings and the histological examination met this diagnostic criteria. Ovarian pregnancy is more frequent with the use of intrauterine contraceptive devices [24] which was not present in this case. Although our patient had two previous voluntary terminations of pregnancies, the history did not suggest evidence of clinical pelvic infection. She also had a complete course of antibiotics which probably would have reduced the likelihood of infectious complications.

The presentation of ovarian pregnancy is similar to the other forms of EP.[2] There may be a history of amenorrhea, abdominal pain and minor ailments of normal intrauterine pregnancy such as nausea, vomiting and constipation are often exaggerated. In cases, where rupture had occurred, it presents with an acute abdomen.[2],[7] The diagnosis as demonstrated in this case report and previous studies can be challenging to the managing clinician.[25] It can easily be mistaken for a haemorrhagic corpus luteum or an ovarian cyst.[25] Ovarian pregnancies usually terminate in rupture during the first trimester in 91.0% of cases, 5.3% in the second trimester and 3.7% in the third trimester.[8],[26] Ovarian pregnancy when asymptomatic may be missed until late gestation.[13] In addition to a high index of clinical suspicion, abdominopelvic ultrasonography helps in locating the gestational sac/foetus in the region of the ovarian fossa.[16],[27] With further developments in ultrasonography, the transvaginal route has helped to limit the number of misdiagnosis and has proven to be an invaluable tool in the diagnosis.[16],[27]

Ovarian pregnancy can be treated conservatively with single dose methotrexate.[14],[28],[29] Methotrexate can also be given by laparoscopic assisted injection into the ectopic site.[22] However, higher failures rates with the use of methotrexate occurs if the pregnancy is advanced, if the gestational sac is >3 .5 mm or if serum B-human chorionic gonadotropin is <5000 mIU/ml.[28] Other cytotoxic drugs such as etoposide has been used and documented to have fewer side effects.[22] With regard to surgical management, interventions in the past were more radical, with ipsilateral salpingo-oophorectomy being commonly done, however, recently the trend has shifted towards conservative surgery such as cystectomy or wedge resection performed at either laparotomy or laparoscopy, especially when diagnosis is made early. The preferred surgical approach for ovarian pregnancy is minimal access surgery using laparoscopy.[20],[30] The additional cosmetic advantage of laparoscopy makes it appealing and readily acceptable by patients. The technique of laparoscopic removal, however, depends on the size and location of the pregnancy within the ovary, as well as the patients' haemodynamic status. Operative laparoscopy is costly to set up and not available in most health centres in developing countries thereby making laparotomy the more common surgical intervention adopted. At our centre, the operative laparoscopy was not functional at the time of her presentation, therefore she was offered laparotomy. Irrespective of the method adopted, the priority in the management of ovarian pregnancy is, however, to prevent mortality.[22] Fertility has been reported to be unmodified following ovarian pregnancy.[22]

Our patient presented with amenorrhoea and lower abdominal pain with ultrasound findings suggestive of abdominal pregnancy. She subsequently had successful laparotomy with histopathological examination confirming the diagnosis of an ovarian pregnancy [Figure 3]. Although ovarian pregnancy is rare, its awareness is important in reducing the associated maternal morbidity and mortality. It should, therefore be considered as a differential diagnosis in a female of reproductive age group presenting with acute abdomen and pregnancy.
Figure 3: Chorionic villi on the left and ovarian stroma on the right in this case (H and E, ×400)

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Conflicts Of Interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

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