Imagine a tiny seed, full of potential and promise, nestled within a nurturing garden. This is the beginning of a new life, a delicate embryo finding its home within a woman’s womb. However, not every seed finds its way to the fertile soil. In some cases, the embryo settles elsewhere, resulting in an ectopic pregnancy. This condition, while relatively rare, presents a unique set of challenges and potential risks, warranting a closer look.
As one delves into the labyrinthine intricacies of an ectopic pregnancy, they encounter a narrative of survival, resilience, and medical marvel. Picture the embryo as a wanderer, settling not in the womb, but rather in the fallopian tube, resulting in a tubal pregnancy, the most common form of ectopic pregnancy.
Understanding this condition is not just an exploration of the human body’s extraordinary adaptability, but also a testament to the medical field’s ceaseless pursuit of safeguarding motherhood. This article aims to illuminate the path, providing clarity and insight into the enigma that is ectopic pregnancy.
Definition of Ectopic Pregnancy
Ectopic Pregnancy, an intriguing yet concerning topic, unfolds its mystery by first addressing What is Ectopic Pregnancy?. The journey then delves into the Causes of Ectopic Pregnancy, illuminating the root contributors. Subsequently, the narrative spotlights Symptoms and Signs, offering readers insights into early detection.
The storyline then navigates through the Diagnosis of Ectopic Pregnancy, shedding light on medical procedures. Ultimately, the narrative culminates by exploring Treatment Options, providing a hopeful ending to this enlightening journey.
What Is Ectopic Pregnancy?
Imagine a tiny seed trying to sprout in the wrong soil. This is the predicament in an ectopic pregnancy.
In mother nature’s grand design, the fertilized egg, also known as a zygote, travels down the fallopian tube to implant itself in the uterus. But in the case of an ectopic pregnancy, the zygote gets lost on this journey and settles in a location other than the uterus, most commonly in the fallopian tube. This is why it’s sometimes called a tubal pregnancy.
Bear in mind, this unusual nesting spot is ill-equipped for a growing baby. It lacks the necessary space and nurturing environment the uterus provides. Thus, as the embryo grows, it can cause serious complications, posing a significant health risk to the woman.
In essence, an ectopic pregnancy is a little like trying to grow a sunflower in a thimble. It’s simply the right seed in the wrong place.
Causes of Ectopic Pregnancy
So, what exactly triggers an ectopic pregnancy? The root cause remains a mystery, but certain factors seem to contribute to this condition. Fallopian tube disorders such as inflammation or infection, often caused by sexually transmitted infections, might pave the way for an ectopic pregnancy.
Past instances of pelvic surgery, including a previous ectopic pregnancy, can also contribute due to scar tissues that might obstruct the pathway of the fertilized egg.
Age also plays a role, with the risk of ectopic pregnancy increasing for women over 35. Lifestyle choices, such as smoking, may damage the cilia – the tiny hairs that line the fallopian tubes and help transport the egg. Certain fertility treatments and hormonal imbalances may also increase the likelihood of an ectopic pregnancy.
Now, isn’t it interesting how our bodies work? In the next part, we’ll discuss the tell-tale signs and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy. Stay tuned!
Symptoms and Signs
As we gently navigate through the informative labyrinth of ectopic pregnancy, let’s pause to focus on the symptoms and signs that might indicate this condition.
Light may seem dim in the early stages of an ectopic pregnancy, but gradually, the first signs of dawn appear as mild abdominal pain and light vaginal bleeding. As the condition progresses, the sun rises with a sharp and severe pain in the lower abdomen, often on one side.
Imagine a gust of wind sweeping across a quiet field, that’s how the dizziness or fainting spells might occur due to low blood pressure. There’s a chance of experiencing shoulder tip pain, caused by bleeding into the abdomen and pelvis.
Like raindrops on a windowpane, the symptoms may seem sporadic but shouldn’t be overlooked. A timely visit to the healthcare professional can provide a diagnosis and appropriate treatment options.
Causes of Ectopic Pregnancy
Moving forward, we’ll delve into the various causes of ectopic pregnancy. We’ll start by exploring abnormalities in the uterus and fallopian tubes, which can disrupt the egg’s journey. From there, we will consider how infection or inflammation may interfere with this delicate process.
We’ll also touch upon the unexpected issue of contraceptive failure, followed by a look at the role genetic abnormalities may play. Lastly, we’ll tie all the factors together to understand how each can lead to the unsettling outcome of an ectopic pregnancy. It’s a fascinating, albeit complex, topic that warrants our attention
Abnormalities in the Uterus
Delving deeper into the causes of ectopic pregnancy, the womb, a woman’s nurturing ground for a growing baby, can sometimes be the primary culprit. A whimsical, yet intriguing place, the uterus might possess certain abnormalities, playing a significant role in ectopic pregnancies.
Imagine a lush garden, but with a few patches of dry, barren land, unable to support the growth of delicate blooms. Similarly, congenital or acquired uterine abnormalities such as fibroids or polyps can limit the available space for a fertilized egg to implant and grow. Like a tiny seed blown off course, the egg might end up settling in an inhospitable place, such as the fallopian tubes, resulting in an ectopic pregnancy.
Moreover, disorders like Asherman’s Syndrome, characterized by scar tissue formation in the uterine walls, can also act like a fence, preventing the implantation in the womb. This friendly reminder about uterine abnormalities underscores the significance of comprehensive women’s health checks.
Abnormalities in the Fallopian Tubes
As we tiptoe into the fascinating world of biology, imagine the Fallopian tubes as serene waterways, vital for the voyage of the egg from the ovary to the womb. But what happens when these channels aren’t as tranquil as they should be?
In the case of abnormalities in the Fallopian tubes, the egg’s journey faces unexpected detours. Picture an idyllic river suddenly obstructed by fallen trees or debris; similarly, these abnormalities can include structural issues like blockages, narrowing, or damage.
Imagine the frustration when a peaceful sail turns into a struggle against the current. The egg, too, might fail to reach its destination – the uterus. And guess what? This is one of the leading causes of ectopic pregnancies.
In this complex dance of cells and hormones, each step is critical. And just like a smooth, unobstructed waterway is essential for a pleasant journey, healthy Fallopian tubes are crucial for a successful pregnancy.
Infection or Inflammation
Just as one might stumble upon a hidden treasure unexpectedly, so too can an infection or inflammation contribute to the occurrence of an ectopic pregnancy. Imagine an idyllic garden, each plant flourishing effortlessly. Now, introduce a pesky bug or unsightly weed. The once serene landscape faces sudden turmoil.
Bearing a striking similarity, a woman’s reproductive system can be disrupted by an uninvited intruder— an infection or inflammation. These elements are like those bugs or weeds in the garden. They can wreak havoc on the delicate balance, causing an altered environment that may lead to an ectopic pregnancy.
Chlamydia and gonorrhea are common culprits, their silent presence often going unnoticed until it’s too late. Yet, it’s not all doom and gloom. Awareness and early detection can help manage these conditions effectively. A gentle reminder: an ectopic pregnancy is not an end, but a bump in the journey towards motherhood.
Risk Factors of Ectopic Pregnancy
Unravel the intricate fabric of Ectopic Pregnancy Risk Factors. The first thread to consider, Age, spins a tale of how maturity influences risk levels. Twisted closely is Previous Ectopic Pregnancy, an echo of past medical history.
The thread of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease history weaves in, hinting at a prior infection’s potential impact. Then, Smoking burns brightly, illustrating how lifestyle choices can fan the flames of risk. Lastly, a knot of Sexually Transmitted Diseases history uncovers the intricate relationship between past infections and Ectopic Pregnancy. Together, they form the complicated tapestry of
Sailing from the choppy waters of the causes of ectopic pregnancy, we now approach the shore of the various risk factors associated with it. First up on our journey is the matter of age.
Like the rings of a tree tell its age, the number of candles on a birthday cake can sometimes hint at the potential for different health conditions. Ectopic pregnancy is one such condition. A woman in her prime, basking in the glow of her twenties, is less likely to experience an ectopic pregnancy as compared to a woman who’s crossed over into her thirties and forties.
As the sun sets on the golden years of youth, the risk for ectopic pregnancy tends to rise, casting long shadows of concern. However, this does not mean that the garden of motherhood is off-limits. It simply means a little more care and attention when planning and nurturing the dream of a baby.
Previous Ectopic Pregnancy
Imagine walking a tightrope, balancing precariously with each step. Now, consider the fact that with every past ectopic pregnancy, the tightrope becomes thinner, more challenging to navigate. That’s right! A history of ectopic pregnancies significantly raises the risk of experiencing another one.
Interestingly, after one ectopic pregnancy, the risk of having another one escalates to about 10%. Get this! If unfortunately, there have been two or more, the chances skyrocket to a whopping 25%!
Now, you might be wondering, why does this happen? Well, previous ectopic pregnancies often lead to scarring or damage in the fallopian tubes. This results in a less-than-ideal environment for the fertilized egg, making it harder for it to reach the uterus.
Remember, knowledge is power. The more you understand your body and your risks, the better equipped you’ll be to map out your pregnancy journey.
History of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Now that we’ve explored the causes of ectopic pregnancy, let’s take a fascinating journey into the realm of risk factors. And guess what? Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) stands out as one of these factors!
Imagine a garden where beautiful flowers are supposed to bloom. Now, replace those flowers with hostile intruders – that’s PID for you. It’s an infection that turns the healthy, fertile soil of the uterus, fallopian tubes, and other reproductive organs into a battleground. When this happens, it’s as if a roadblock has been set up in the delicate passageways meant for a fertilized egg to travel.
This unfortunate situation can increase the odds of an ectopic pregnancy. A prior history of PID is like playing Russian roulette with the location of pregnancy. The stunning fact is, a woman with a history of PID has about ten times the risk of an ectopic pregnancy. Now isn’t that fascinating?
Signs and Symptoms of Ectopic Pregnancy
Imagine the sudden onset of vaginal bleeding, coupled with the unsettling discomfort of abdominal pain or cramping. Now, introduce the unwelcome visitors of nausea and vomiting. Such symptoms might suggest a brewing storm of ectopic pregnancy.
Delving deeper, a change in vaginal bleeding patterns could also hint towards this condition. Furthermore, late-stage ectopic pregnancy symptoms shouldn’t be ignored. These symptoms may appear friendly, but they signal a serious health condition.
Ready to dive a little deeper? Let’s explore the first sign of an ectopic pregnancy: vaginal bleeding.
Imagine a typical menstrual cycle. Light spotting might occur, nothing out of the ordinary. Now picture a sudden change. The spotting becomes heavier, unexpected, and perhaps a little alarming. This is one of the many faces of vaginal bleeding in ectopic pregnancies.
Yet, not all presentations are the same. Sometimes, the bleeding might be intermittent, painting a confusing picture. Other times, it might mimic a regular period, causing no reason for alarm.
But here’s the thing. This isn’t a sign to be overlooked. This seemingly innocent symptom can be a harbinger of a potentially dangerous condition: an ectopic pregnancy.
So next time a change in bleeding pattern catches the eye, remember, it’s worth paying attention to. It might be whispering a message that could save a life.
Abdominal Pain or Cramping
Just imagine, you’re going about your day, when suddenly an unexpected twinge in your abdomen catches your attention. This could be an early sign of an ectopic pregnancy – abdominal pain or cramping.
Typically, this discomfort starts on one side of the abdomen. It might be a dull ache that steadily escalates into a sharp, stabbing pain. There’s no hard and fast rule, though. Sometimes it might feel like pressure or swelling instead. It can be confounding, as it might mimic the sensation of a normal pregnancy or even a gastrointestinal issue.
And here’s the twist: the pain can extend to your shoulder if internal bleeding irritates diaphragm nerves. You might be thinking, “Shoulder pain, really?” Yes, really. It’s just one of the many ways an ectopic pregnancy can catch you off-guard.
Remember, early detection is key. So, keep an eye out for these signs.
Nausea and Vomiting
Stepping away from the previous section on risk factors, let’s delve into the signs and symptoms of ectopic pregnancy. Now, imagine waking up in the morning, and instead of the classic morning stretch and yawn, you’re greeted with a wave of nausea and intense urge to vomit. This is not a typical morning sickness if it’s accompanied by other signs of an ectopic pregnancy.
Remember, it’s not just a bad breakfast. The persistent feeling of nausea and frequent vomiting is a common symptom of ectopic pregnancy. But here’s the kicker, these symptoms might be mistaken for a normal pregnancy or even a stomach bug. That’s why, when it comes to diagnosing an ectopic pregnancy, it’s all about the whole picture — putting together all the symptoms, and not just focusing on one.
So, take note of the persistent nausea and vomiting. It may be a telling sign of ectopic pregnancy!
Diagnosis of Ectopic Pregnancy
Upon suspecting an ectopic pregnancy, doctors first conduct a physical examination to check for any abdominal discomfort. Next, the friendly hum of an ultrasound scan paints a detailed image of the pelvic region, helping professionals identify anomalies. Simultaneously, a blood test checks hCG levels, aiding in the confirmation of the diagnosis.
Another round of ultrasound scanning may follow for more precision. Finally, a differential diagnosis ensures the symptoms aren’t due to other conditions, like ovarian cysts or miscarriage, painting a comprehensive picture of the patient’s health.
Buckle up! The journey into the realm of diagnosing an ectopic pregnancy is about to take off, first stop: Physical Examination.
Imagine a caring physician, their hands gently yet expertly exploring the terrain of the abdomen. They’re searching for any signs of tenderness or mass, alert for the smallest hint of irregularity. The physical examination is a crucial first step, as it can often reveal the presence of an ectopic pregnancy. Pelvic tenderness and abdominal pain are key indicators that something might be amiss.
Picture this! The patient lying comfortably on the exam table, their trust placed in the doctor’s capable hands. The stethoscope’s cool touch on the skin, listening intently for the telltale signs of an ectopic pregnancy. While the doctor’s touch is gentle, their focus is unwavering. This physical examination is not just a routine check-up, but a vital step in the detection of this high-risk condition.
Feeling a flurry of emotions, the journey to unveil the unknown now leads to an ultrasound scan. Imagine this: a magical window to see what’s happening inside the body.
Here’s the thing, an ultrasound scan acts as the eyes that can peer into your womb. It’s not just about black and white images, it’s about precious information that can save lives. Guided by a trained technician, a small device glides over the abdomen. It’s painless, it’s simple, but it’s revealing.
Isn’t it fascinating how sound waves, bouncing back and forth, can paint a picture of what’s inside? They reveal the location of the pregnancy, the heartbeat, and more. And the best bit? The results are immediate.
Yes, indeed, an ultrasound scan is a crucial step in diagnosing an ectopic pregnancy. It’s not just a scan, it’s a glimpse into the future. It offers hope, guidance, and most importantly, the chance to take the right steps forward.
Wondering how doctors confirm the suspicion of an ectopic pregnancy? Voila! Blood tests to the rescue! These simple yet powerful tools can tell a lot about what’s happening inside the body.
Doctors usually order two main types of blood tests – quantitative hCG and progesterone tests. The quantitative hCG test measures the exact amount of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in blood. An abnormal rise or fall in hCG levels indicates an ectopic pregnancy.
On the other hand, the progesterone test checks the level of progesterone, a hormone produced during pregnancy. Low progesterone levels often suggest an ectopic pregnancy or a possible miscarriage.
These tests combined with other diagnostic methods aid in painting a clear and precise picture of the situation. Remember, early diagnosis and treatment can make a significant difference in ectopic pregnancy management.
Treatment of Ectopic Pregnancy
Embarking on the journey of Ectopic Pregnancy Treatment, the path first leads to Medical Treatment options, offering less invasive solutions. Further ahead, Surgery comes into view for those instances where medical treatment may not suffice. The trail then meanders towards Monitoring HCG Levels, a critical signpost to gauge recovery.
Suddenly, the terrain turns rocky as Risks and Complications are explored, offering a stark reminder of the importance of professional guidance. Lastly, bathed in hope’s gentle glow, Future Pregnancy Planning is discovered, illustrating the possibilities beyond the current circumstances.
Bridging the gap between diagnosis and treatment, let’s dive into the first step towards healing: medical treatment. A shining beacon of hope in the turmoil of ectopic pregnancy, this procedure aims to preserve the woman’s well-being and future fertility.
At the heart of medical treatment lies Methotrexate, a gold-standard drug. Administered as a single injection, this medication stops the growth of the pregnancy and allows the body’s natural processes to absorb the tissue. As the sun sets on the day of injection, the body begins its peaceful journey towards healing.
This non-surgical approach favors those with early diagnosis, minimal symptoms, and an unruptured fallopian tube. Echoing the whispers of a gentle sea breeze, Methotrexate promises less pain and quicker recovery. It’s a tender kiss goodbye to the ectopic pregnancy and a warm embrace of the hope for future pregnancies. The magic of medical treatment lies in its ability to transform despair into hope, pain into healing.
Having unraveled the mystifying process of diagnosing an ectopic pregnancy, let’s now venture into the realm of its treatment. And guess what? This journey starts with the exploration of surgical procedures.
Imagine this: A well-lit, sterile operating room, where skilled surgeons work with precision and care. This can be the setting for treating an ectopic pregnancy via surgery.
Two main types come into play here. Firstly, the laparoscopic surgery, a minimally invasive procedure that involves making small incisions to remove the ectopic tissue. Secondly, laparotomy, a more traditional approach, where a larger incision is made to access and remove the ectopic pregnancy.
The choice between these methods depends upon several factors such as the location and size of the ectopic pregnancy, the patient’s overall health, and the equipment available. Bear in mind, though, that surgery remains the primary treatment for ruptured ectopic pregnancies.
Monitoring Hcg Levels
After navigating the turbulent seas of diagnosis, the shores of treatment are within sight. Now, the spotlight turns to Monitoring HCG Levels. Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) is a hormone that the body produces during pregnancy. Its detection is like a beacon in a foggy night, guiding the medical team in their mission.
A descending HCG level is a sign of relief, a soft melody whispering of treatment success. As the HCG levels decrease, hope increases. The medical team will order HCG tests periodically, their frequency a rhythm resonating through the patient’s journey.
Yet, it is essential to remember that this journey is not a sprint, but a marathon. Patience becomes the patient’s closest companion. The levels may not decline immediately following treatment, but the downward trend is the goal. As they say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
In the grand orchestra of treatment, monitoring HCG levels plays a critical symphony, paving the path towards healing and recovery.
Complications of Ectopic Pregnancy
Venturing into the thorny terrain of Ectopic Pregnancy, the journey unveils the Risk of Bleeding, where blood vessels rupture, leading to precarious scenarios. Next, the road winds towards the Risk of Infertility, a poignant possibility for hopeful mothers. Not all is desolate, as the path brightens at the oasis of Treatment Options, offering solace in the storm.
The journey, however, casts a shadow at Maternal Mortality, a grim reminder of life’s fragility. Finally, the expedition concludes at Medical Complications, a labyrinth of challenges that healthcare professionals navigate with precision and care.
Risk of Bleeding
Just as a seed needs water to grow, understanding the treatment of ectopic pregnancy paves way to comprehending the potential complications. Now let’s dive into the risk of bleeding, a significant danger associated with ectopic pregnancies.
When an ectopic pregnancy ruptures, severe internal bleeding may occur. Imagine a water balloon bursting unexpectedly, releasing its contents in an uncontrolled manner. That’s how unpredictable and alarming this situation can be. A ruptured fallopian tube can result in a sudden, sharp pain in the abdomen, followed by light-headedness, increased heart rate, and even fainting.
What’s more astonishing? This internal bleeding may not always be immediately noticeable. Like a stealthy cat on the prowl, it can silently cause damage before it’s detected. That’s why an ectopic pregnancy is often considered a medical emergency. The risk of bleeding underscores the critical need for early detection and intervention in ectopic pregnancies.
Risk of Infertility
Imagine the heartache of a woman who dreams of cradling her newborn only to face the grim reality of infertility. This, unfortunately, is a potential risk associated with ectopic pregnancy. Now, you might be thinking, “What’s the connection?” Well, here’s the thing.
An ectopic pregnancy can cause damage to the fallopian tubes, which are crucial for the journey of the egg from the ovary to the uterus. This damage may lead to blockages, thereby increasing the risk of infertility. Now, this doesn’t mean every woman who experiences an ectopic pregnancy will become infertile.
However, it does highlight the need for early detection and appropriate treatment to minimize potential harm. Remember, the sooner an ectopic pregnancy is detected and treated, the better the chances of preserving fertility. Here’s a ray of hope – with today’s medical advances, many women who have had an ectopic pregnancy go on to have successful pregnancies in the future.
Imagine this: after understanding the treatment options for ectopic pregnancy, the decision-making process becomes less daunting.
Let’s dive into the treatment options.
Primarily, medical therapy involves administering methotrexate, an effective drug that destroys the pregnancy tissue and allows the body to absorb it. This option works best for early ectopic pregnancies and poses less risk to future fertility.
Alternatively, surgical interventions provide a surefire method to treat the condition. Two types of surgeries are commonly performed: laparotomy and laparoscopy. The former involves a large incision, while the latter, a minimally invasive procedure, involves small incisions.
Finally, expectant management, where doctors closely monitor the situation, can be an option if the ectopic pregnancy is resolving on its own.
Remember, the choice of treatment largely depends on the individual’s health and the progression of the pregnancy. Always consult with healthcare providers to make informed decisions.
Prevention of Ectopic Pregnancy
Embrace the habit of regular pelvic exams, a preventive measure against ectopic pregnancy. Dodge the storm of risk factors, never peering into the abyss of harmful lifestyle choices. Prompt treatment of infections is the silver lining, a beacon guiding back to wellness.
Tubal surgery and scarring unfurls a tale of recovery – a testament to the body’s resilience. Finally, the specter of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease looms, yet the shield of prevention stands firm, protecting future hopes and dreams.
Regular Pelvic Exams
Switching gears from the admittedly sobering topic of ectopic pregnancy complications, let’s now venture into the empowering realm of prevention. Imagine a world where regular pelvic exams become as routine as dental check-ups, serving as a powerful tool in the fight against ectopic pregnancies.
In this health-conscious dreamland, medical professionals meticulously examine the pelvic region, their skilled hands and keen eyes identifying even minute abnormalities. The seemingly simple act of lying back on the examination table, feet tucked in stirrups, becomes a proactive step in safeguarding reproductive health.
Regular pelvic exams offer a golden opportunity to detect possible issues early, like cysts or infections that can increase the risk of ectopic pregnancies. Picture the relief that follows these check-ups, the peace of mind knowing that potential problems have been spotted and can be addressed promptly.
The key to preventing ectopic pregnancy might indeed lie in these routine examinations, transforming them from mere medical procedure to a beacon of hope and safety.
Avoiding Risk Factors
Feeling a sense of vulnerability after discussing the ominous complications of Ectopic Pregnancy? Breathe easy. There are proactive measures to be taken to reduce the risk of this condition. One of the key strategies includes Avoiding Risk Factors.
Let’s paint a picture of these risk factors, shall we? Among them, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can be seen as the unruly villains. In this story, they are the nefarious characters that increase the likelihood of an ectopic pregnancy.
Now, imagine a life where these villains are banished. The scent of smoke is replaced with the fresh aroma of morning coffee, and alcohol-filled nights give way to tranquil evenings of relaxation.
So, what’s the moral of our story? Simply put, steering clear of these villains can significantly decrease the chances of an ectopic pregnancy. Remember, prevention is always better than cure. It’s time to bid farewell to those risk factors and say hello to a healthier lifestyle.
Prompt Treatment of Infections
As the sun rises on a new day, let’s illuminate the pathway to prevention of ectopic pregnancy, casting away the shadow of potential complications. Imagine, a world where this condition is a rarity rather than a common occurrence. Now, let’s explore just one of the ways this can be achieved: prompt treatment of infections.
Infection in the body, especially in the pelvic area, can lead to scarring and blockages in the fallopian tubes, creating a cozy nest for an ectopic pregnancy. But don’t fret, this can be prevented! Swift detection and treatment of infections can keep the pathways clear. Picture the fallopian tubes as a serene river, flowing smoothly, unobstructed by any unwanted debris.
Regular check-ups and a keen awareness of the body’s signals are like lighthouses guiding those rivers. So, remember, maintaining a healthy body is a key step in averting ectopic pregnancies.
Ectopic pregnancy, a medical condition where an embryo implants outside the uterus, poses significant health risks but early detection can result in successful treatment. Factors such as previous pelvic or abdominal surgery, history of PID, smoking, and age over 35 years, can increase the likelihood of an occurrence.
Diagnosis of ectopic pregnancy often involves blood tests and ultrasound scans. Treatment options may include medication, surgery, or in some cases, careful monitoring. Understanding the signs, symptoms and risk factors can aid in early detection and prevention of this potentially life-threatening condition.