1 in 50 pregnancies in the US are ectopic. In the UK the number is 6 in 50. An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that happens outside of the uterus. An ectopic pregnancy often happens in the Fallopian tubes (a pair of structures that connect the ovaries and uterus). The fallopian tubes aren’t as flexible. They can burst as the fertilized egg develops. This is a life-threatening condition, if not treated right away. Unfortunately, until now, the only treatment available for treating ectopic pregnancy is salpingectomy, if not discovered at the earliest. Salpingectomy is a surgical procedure where one or both of a woman's fallopian tubes are removed. The bilateral salpingectomy (having both the fallopian tubes removed) prevents pregnancy in women via a natural way permanently. For women who have had a salpingectomy, the only option for getting pregnant is through an IVF treatment, which is an expensive procedure and does not provide a 100% result. The IVF treatment can go up to multiple cycles, with each cycle exacting a toll on the mental, physical and financial health of the family.
We propose here an alternative to salpingectomy to treat ectopic pregnancy using a Falloscope. A Falloscope is a flexible scope that doctors can use to look inside the fallopian tubes.
In this procedure, the doctor will push the Falloscope through the vagina into the uterus and into the fallopian tube (refer to the figure-1). The Falloscope distal tip will have a camera module along with an illumination channel which will help the doctor navigate. The distal tip will have one instrument channel and one suction channel (refer to the figure-2). The Instrument channel will be used to insert a tool similar to the one used in breaking a kidney stone to disintegrate an ectopically developed egg. The suction channel will suck those disintegrated egg's particles out of the woman's body.
Currently, in the market, there is no such device. This would be the first device in the market to treat ectopic pregnancy by using a Falloscope and making sure that fallopian tubes are intact.
Treating the ectopic pregnancy with a Falloscope will allow women to retain their fallopian tubes. This means that the women can continue to try for a natural pregnancy. The cost for pregnancy via IVF after salpingectomy can be around $10,000 to $15,000 depending upon the number of cycles and the location of the treatment center. Then there is a psychological cost which is often overlooked. Treatment through a Falloscope rather than salpingectomy can help the families avoid both.
It inspires its design from flexible medical endoscopes available on the market. The manufacturing ecosystem for flexible endoscopes is already an established one. Thus manufacturing this device would not be the most challenging part.
Falloscopy will become the first preference of the doctors to treat an ectopic pregnancy as this would be a simpler procedure and would cost lower than the salpingectomy.