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OBJECTIVE: To estimate trends in ectopic pregnancy mortality and examine characteristics of recently hospitalized women who died as a result of ectopic pregnancy in the United States.

METHODS: We used 1980-2007 national birth and death certificate data to calculate ectopic pregnancy mortality ratios (deaths per 100,000 live births) overall and stratified by maternal age and race. We performed nonparametric tests for trend to assess changes in ectopic pregnancy mortality over time and calculated projected mortality ratios for 2013-2017. Ectopic pregnancy deaths among hospitalized women were identified from 1998-2007 Nationwide Inpatient Sample data.

RESULTS: Between 1980 and 2007, 876 deaths were attributed to ectopic pregnancy. The ectopic pregnancy mortality ratio declined by 56.6%, from 1.15 to 0.50 deaths per 100,000 live births between 1980-1984 and 2003-2007; at the current average annual rate of decline, this ratio will further decrease by 28.5% to 0.36 ectopic pregnancy deaths per 100,000 live births by 2013-2017. The ectopic pregnancy mortality ratio was 6.8 times higher for African Americans than whites and 3.5 times higher for women older than 35 years than those younger than 25 years during 2003-2007. Of the 76 deaths among women hospitalized between 1998 and 2007, 70.5% were tubal pregnancies; salpingectomy was performed in 80.6% of cases. Excessive hemorrhage, shock, or renal failure accompanied 67.4% of ectopic pregnancy deaths among hospitalized women.

CONCLUSION: Despite a significant decline in ectopic pregnancy mortality since the 1980s, age disparities, and especially racial disparities, persist. Strategies to ensure timely diagnosis and management of ectopic pregnancies can further reduce related mortality and age and race mortality gaps.

(C) 2011 by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.