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Diagnosis and Management of Hepatic Ectopic Pregnancy

Shippey, Stuart H. MD, LCDR, USN1; Bhoola, Snehal M. MD2; Royek, Anthony B. MD2; Long, Mary E. MD3

doi: 10.1097/01.AOG.0000247293.32523.c3
Case Reports

BACKGROUND: We present a case in which an adnexal mass caused symptoms that eventually lead to the identification of a primary hepatic pregnancy.

CASE: A young woman presented with abdominal pain, a positive hCG test result, an empty uterus, and a pelvic mass. Diagnostic laparoscopy revealed a cystic adnexal mass. An exploratory laparotomy with ovarian cystectomy identified a mature teratoma but no evidence of pregnancy in the pelvis. Because the patient’s quantitative hCG level continued to increase without evidence of an intrauterine pregnancy, a dilation and curettage was performed which yielded no products of conception. An ultrasound examination and magnetic resonance imaging identified an 11-week ectopic pregnancy with fetal cardiac activity located in the maternal liver. This was treated with fetal injections of methotrexate and potassium chloride under ultrasound guidance and subsequent maternal intramuscular injection of methotrexate. The patient tolerated these interventions well, and subsequent ultrasound examinations showed absent fetal cardiac activity and decreasing fetal size. Serial hCG tests were followed up to zero, and the patient’s liver enzyme levels remained normal.

CONCLUSION: With persistently rising hCG levels and no pregnancy identified in the uterus or pelvis, there should be a thorough evaluation of the entire pelvis and abdomen. Magnetic resonance imaging is a useful tool for locating such an ectopic pregnancy. Once identified, decisions regarding surgical versus medical management must take risk of adverse outcomes into consideration. This report reveals an 11-week hepatic pregnancy managed conservatively with fetal potassium chloride and maternal methotrexate administration.

An ultrasonically guided transhepatic injection of potassium chloride into the fetal heart and an intramuscular injection of methotrexate was an effective, minimally invasive treatment for hepatic pregnancy.

From the Department of 1Obstetrics and Gynecology, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Baltimore, Maryland; 2Memorial Health University Medical Center, Savannah, Georgia; and 3University of Tennessee College of Medicine, Memphis, Tennessee.

Corresponding author: Stuart H. Shippey, MD, LCDR, USN, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 4940 Eastern Avenue, Room A-121, Baltimore, MD 21224-2780; e-mail:

© 2007 The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists