Reevaluation of the role of culdocentesis in the management of ectopic pregnancy

M Vermesh, J W Graczykowski, M V Sauer
American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 1990, 162 (2): 411-3
Culdocentesis has been used routinely in the evaluation of ectopic pregnancy. To determine whether culdocentesis continues to play an important role, we reviewed the operative findings of 297 women undergoing an operative procedure because of ectopic pregnancy. Culdocentesis was performed before surgery in 252 cases. Of those, 210 (83%) had positive test results and 42 (17%) had negative results. Positive results accurately predicted a ruptured ectopic pregnancy in 50% of cases, whereas negative test results were predictive of an unruptured ectopic pregnancy in 58% of cases. Six patients without an ectopic pregnancy underwent unnecessary laparotomy because of positive culdocentesis test results, whereas 27 patients who were discharged from the emergency room after negative test results were obtained subsequently were found to have ectopic pregnancies. The results of this study imply that culdocentesis is of limited value in a clinical setting in which sensitive and rapid testing and pelvic ultrasonography are used.

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