The history of the diagnosis and treatment of ectopic pregnancy: a medical adventure

Samuel Lurie*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


From its indirect reference by Abulcasis (936-1013) and untill the 19th century the ectopic pregnancy was known as a universally fatal accident. By reporting successful treatment of tubal pregnancy with salpingectomy in 1884 Robert Lawson Tait (1845-1899) started an era of almost 70 years of exclusively extirpative treatment of ectopic pregnancy. The technologic revolution of the 20th century improved diagnostic capabilities so that diagnosis of unruptured ectopic pregnancy becomes feasible and even mandatory. Side by side our understanding of the natural history of ectopic pregnancy improved. Many patients with early-resolving ectopic pregnancies escape surgical treatment. Preservation of future fertility became possible with the introduction of conservative surgical procedures and with the use of methotrexate. The main achievement in the treatmant of ectopic pregnancy over the past 110 years is the dramatic decrease in mortality rate: from 72-90% in 1880 to 0.14% in 1990.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 9 Jan 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • Ectopic pregnancy


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