Clinical Image of the Month: September 2018

Welcome back to another Clinical Image of the Month from the case files of the Brown EM Residency.


The Case

The patient is a 39-year-old female, G2P1, without significant PMH, who arrives in the critical care room from triage. She is lethargic with an undetectable blood pressure and a moderate amount of vaginal bleeding. A cordis was placed emergently and she received 2U pRBCs. Her mental status responded quickly to the transfusion, along with her systolic blood pressure. The first detectable blood pressure was captured in the 60’s and continued to steadily improve.   

During resuscitation, her husband tells you that they believe she is seven weeks pregnant based on her LMP, however, she has not had an evaluation or ultrasound yet during this pregnancy.  She recently took an at-home pregnancy test that was positive. She had some vaginal spotting last week that resolved. She otherwise has no history of abnormal bleeding, but does report strong cramping during menstrual periods. No history of sexually transmitted infections. This episode of vaginal bleeding began this morning and was associated with moderate pain and abdominal cramping. She has been changing pads hourly to manage the vaginal bleeding; she reports blood clots but no passage of tissue.

She otherwise reports some recent weakness and fatigue in addition to SOB and chills. Denies chest pain, back pain, urinary symptoms.

Vital Signs:

T 98.1, HR 110s, RR 20, BP 64/49, SpO2 98% on RA

Repeat blood pressure (after 2U pRBC) 89/73


Pertinent physical exam:

Alert and oriented x3. Diaphoretic, anxious, pallor.

Soft abdomen with suprapubic tenderness to palpation without rebound or guarding

External os dilated <5mm. Patient passing multiple large clots and copious bright red blood from cervical os on speculum exam.

An emergent bedside transvaginal ultrasound was obtained:

Cervical Ectopic Gif.gif

Figure 1: Transvaginal ultrasound clip

Figure 2: Transverse view of the cervix on transvaginal ultrasound

Figure 2: Transverse view of the cervix on transvaginal ultrasound

What’s the diagnosis?


Cervical ectopic pregnancies represent less than 1% of all ectopic pregnancies.  Prior dilatation and curettage, caesarean section and in vitro fertilization all increase risk for implantation of the blastocyst into the intracervical wall. According to one review, the incidence of cervical pregnancy is 0.1% among in vitro fertilization pregnancies. They can present with painful or painless vaginal bleeding. If detected early, cervical ectopic pregnancies can be treated similar to a tubal ectopic with methotrexate. If hemorrhaging, there is a high risk for maternal mortality and therefore a hysterectomy would be necessary to control bleeding.  There may be some role for uterine artery embolization prior in an attempt to decrease bleeding and therefore decrease the likelihood for hysterectomy. Don’t forget to administer Rhogam if indicated.



Incomplete abortion may also present with products of conception residing within the cervix. For this reason, it may be difficult to ascertain the difference between a spontaneous miscarriage versus cervical ectopic pregnancy. The ‘sliding scan’ on transvaginal ultrasound is seen when the gestational sac, in an intrauterine pregnancy that is aborting, slides against the endocervical canal. This sliding is not seen on a cervical ectopic pregnancy due to the implantation into the endocervical wall.

Case conclusion

The ultrasound was reviewed with radiology and OB/GYN specialists and the decision was made to administer Methotrexate. Due to the persistent vaginal bleeding, the patient was taken urgently to the OR  for dilation and curettage. Intraoperative findings were consistent with an adherent mass arising from the anterior cervix. There was moderate active bleeding from the cervical os. The anterior lip of the cervix was injected with a solution of dilute vasopressin and was grasped with a single tooth tenaculum, with care not to disrupt the mass. A paracervical block was then performed with the dilute vasopressin.  Figure of 8 sutures were placed at 3 and 9 o’clock and tied down to partially occlude the cervical branches of the uterine artery. There was minimal clot in the uterus.  An 18F intrauterine foley balloon instilled with saline was placed to provide tamponade to the cervix. Intrauterine foley was removed on POD#2.  She was discharged on POD#3.

At her two-week outpatient follow-up appointment with OB/GYN, the patient had minimal pain and light bleeding. She was started on Depo-Provera to prevent pregnancy for six months due to the administration of MTX. Outpatient labwork trended her beta-HCG to zero.

Follow the discussion here on Figure 1

Faculty Reviewer: Dr. Alyson McGregor



Samal SK and Rathod S. Cervical Ectopic Pregnancy. J Nat Sci Biol Med 2015 Jan-Jun; 6(1): 257–260.

Tolandi Togas. UpToDate: Ectopic pregnancy: Clinical manifestations and diagnosis

Zhou A, Young D, Vingan H. Uterine artery embolization for cervical ectopic pregnancy. Radiol Case Rep. 2015 Dec; 10(4): 72-75.


Shoutout to resident physician Will Galvin who managed this case in critical care! Check back for the next Clinical Image of the Month.