London: In what`s being claimed as a key breakthrough which could save fertility of thousands of women, scientists have developed a simple blood test that can detect ectopic pregnancy within a day.
Ectopic pregnancies occur when the foetus implants itself outside of the womb, usually in one of the fallopian tubes. The baby can never be saved, but if the condition is not diagnosed in time it can also be fatal for the mother.
Now, an international team has developed the test which checks for four characteristics or "markers" in the blood which are symptomatic of an ectopic pregnancy.
According to the scientists, the test would enable the life-threatening condition to be diagnosed within a day, instead of the several weeks it takes for tests to come back, allowing doctors to intervene earlier to save the reproductive organs which are often severely damaged by the condition.
Doctors currently use blood screening and ultrasound to detect abnormalities, but these methods are not accurate in the early stages following conception. However, the blood test could be accurate just three weeks into pregnancy, the `Daily Mail` reported.
It would enable women to have immediate surgery to remove the foetus, reducing the chances of the fallopian tube being damaged, say the scientists, led by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in the US.