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Using a decline in serum hCG between days 0–4 to predict ectopic pregnancy treatment success after single-dose methotrexate: a retrospective cohort study

DOI: 10.1186/1471-2393-13-30

Keywords: Ectopic pregnancy, Human chorionic gonadotrophin, Medical management, Methotrexate, Positive predictive value, Treatment success

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We conducted a retrospective study of women (n=206) treated with single-dose methotrexate for ectopic pregnancy (pre-treatment serum hCG levels ≤3000 IU/L) at Scottish hospitals between 2006–2011. Women were divided into two cohorts based on whether their serum hCG levels rose or fell between days 0–4 after methotrexate. Treatment outcomes of women in each cohort were compared, and the test performance characteristics calculated. This methodology was repeated for the current measure (≥15% fall in serum hCG between days 4–7 of treatment) and an alternate early measure (<20% fall in serum hCG between days 0–4 of treatment), and all three measures were compared for their ability to predict medical treatment success.In our cohort, the positive predictive value of the current clinical measure was 89% (95% CI 84-94%) (121/136). A falling serum hCG between days 0–4 predicted treatment success in 85% (95% CI 79-92%) of cases (94/110) and a <20% fall in serum hCG between days 0–4 predicted treatment success in 94% (95% CI 88-100%) of cases (59/63). There was no significant difference in the ability of these tests to predict medical treatment success.We have verified that a decline in serum hCG between days 0–4 after methotrexate treatment for ectopic pregnancies, with pre-treatment serum hCG levels ≤3000 IU/L, provides an early indication of likelihood of treatment success, and performs just as well as the existing measure, which only provides prognostic information on day 7.Ectopic pregnancies occur in 1-2% of pregnancies [1]. Although potentially life threatening, the ability to non-invasively detect ectopic pregnancies before they rupture with ultrasound affords some women the option of medical management. Stovall et al.[2] first demonstrated the safety and efficacy of outpatient methotrexate to treat women with ectopic pregnancies in 1989, and today, approximately 25-30% of women presenting with this condition are eligible for such treatment [3,4].Quantification of serum


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