Research update

Ectopic pregnancy: Osteopathic structural examinations help detect location when imaging fails

A new study in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association finds method helpful in emergency situations.

The location of an ectopic pregnancy can be determined using osteopathic structural examinations (OSE), according to Daniel Martingano, DO, a resident at NYU School of Medicine, who published this finding in an article in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association’s February issue.

The simple, noninvasive technique can be used to identify whether an ectopic pregnancy is located within the fallopian tubes, ovaries, or abdomen.

“The vast majority of ectopic pregnancies occur within the fallopian tubes. However, it can difficult to locate them when they occur anywhere else, especially in a ruptured ectopic pregnancy,” says Dr. Martingano.

He explains that bleeding caused by a rupture can often obscure imaging. Typically, in such situations, exploratory surgery is necessary. Using OSE can make the process of diagnosis much faster and streamline the treatment process—a crucial benefit if the mother is bleeding out.

Osteopathic obstetricians can also use OSE on expectant mothers at regular checkups where an abnormal pregnancy may be suspected and identify an ectopic pregnancy before it ruptures and becomes an emergency.

“This is a very standard, basic procedure for any osteopathic physician, so no additional training is needed to make this widely used,” says Dr. Martingano.

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