Tue, Aug 02, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Heterotopic pregnancy results in birth of twins

FERTILITY TREATMENT:While heterotopic pregnancies are rare, having five living embryos is even rarer, and the woman’s case may be the first in Asia, a doctor said

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

A rare case of heterotopic pregnancy, with four fertilized embryos in the uterus and another fertilized embryo outside the uterus, was treated at Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in New Taipei City, and the patient gave birth to healthy twins a few months ago, the hospital said yesterday.

The patient, a 30-year-old surnamed Ho (何), was transferred to the hospital’s emergency room from Hsinchu late last year, because she had been suffering from severe abdominal pain and anemia.

Obstetrician Steven Shaw (蕭勝文) said that Ho had received infertility treatment at another hospital and when she arrived at the emergency room, five embryos with a heartbeat were discovered — four inside the uterus and one in the fallopian tube.

However, Ho was suffering from a fallopian tube rupture and anemia, so emergency surgery was performed to remove the fallopian tube and an embryo, Shaw said, adding that two weeks after the surgery, one more embryo was found withered without a heartbeat.

After doctors discussed with Ho and her family the high risks of bearing triplets and the risk of premature birth, a fetal reduction surgery was performed after 12 weeks and twin boys were delivered in May.

“Heterotopic pregnancy is a situation when there is an intra-uterine and extra-uterine pregnancy occurring at the same time,” Shaw said, adding that the condition occurs in about one in every 30,000 pregnancies, but the incidence rate increases if a pregnancy occurs as the result of fertility drugs or in vitro fertilization.

While heterotopic pregnancies are rare, having five living embryos is even rarer, and Ho’s is possibly the first case in Asia and only the second case in the world, he said.

Pregnant women who have gone through an in vitro fertilization process should be especially aware of abdominal distension or internal bleeding, and frequently check with the doctor at the initial stage of pregnancy to confirm whether there is one or multiple embryo’s, as well as screen for ectopic pregnancy, he said.

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