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We cannot better describe the symptoms produced by the presence of an hydatic mole, and the mode of its expulsion, than by quoting a case from the work of Dr. Gooch, on some of the more Important Diseases peculiar to Women.
"I was sent for to a few miles from London, to see a lady, who, having ceased to menstruate for one month, and becoming very sick, concluded that she was pregnant. The next month she had a slow hæmorrhage from the uterus, which had continued incessantly a month when I saw her: she kept nothing on her stomach. On examining the uterus through the vagina, its body felt considerably enlarged, and there was a round circumscribed tumour in the front of the abdomen, reaching from the brim of the pelvis nearly to the umbilicus. I saw her several times at intervals of a fortnight, during which the hæmorrhage and the vomiting continued unrelieved: the peculiarity about the case was the bulk of the uterus, which was greater than it ought to be at this period of pregnancy; it felt also less firm than the pregnant uterus, more like a thick bladder full of fluid. Eleven weeks from the omission of the menstruation, she was seized with profuse hæmorrhage; towards evening there came on strong expelling pains, during which she discharged a vast quantity of something which puzzled her attendants. The next morning I found her quite well-her pain, hæmorrhage, and vomiting, having ceased. I was then taken into her dressing-room, and shown a large wash-hand basin full of what looked like myriads of little white currants floating in red currant juice. They were hydatids floating in bloody water."
The treatment previous to the expulsion of the mole should be gently alterative and tonic; the chylopoietic functions should be kept in regular action, and the strength sustained. When hæmorrhage comes on, we must be guided a good deal by the quantity lost, and by the effect which it has upon the pulse. Generally speaking, when the pulse has been a good deal reduced in strength and volume, we shall find the os uteri relaxed and dilated, and in all probability a portion of the mass protruding into the vagina, which may be hooked down by the fingers, and thus the expulsion of the whole mass facilitated. For farther details regarding the management of such cases, we must refer to the chapter on premature expulsion of the ovum, between the symptoms and treatment of which, and of mole pregnancy, there is a close analogy. The after treatment will always be a matter of considerable importance, and will in a great measure resemble that in abortion or miscarriage.
Patients who have suffered from a mole pregnancy generally have their strength seriously reduced and their health much broken: hence, they are liable to leucorrhoea, menorrhagia, or dysmenorrhoea, which entail a long series of troublesome and even dangerous affections, the recovery from which will be slow and difficult, requiring a long course of tonic medicines, and removal to the sea-coast or some watering-place where there are chalybeate springs.
TUBARIAN, OVARIAN, AND VENTRAL PREGNANCY.-PREGNANCY IN THE SUBSTANCE OF THE UTERUS.
THE OVUM when impregnated does not always quit the ovary and pass along the Fallopian tube into the uterus. It may remain in the ovary and become here developed; it may pass into the Fallopian tube and remain there; or from some defect in the action of the fimbriated extremity of this canal, it may escape into the cavity of the abdomen, and become attached to some of the viscera. Hence, extra-uterine pregnancy has been divided into three species, viz. graviditas tuberia, ovaria, and ventralis, according to the situation which the ovum takes. A fourth has been also described by M. Breschet, which he has called graviditas in substantia uteri, a modification probably of tubarian pregnancy.
a The uterus, its cavity laid open. Its parietes thickened, as in natural pregnancy. c A portion of decidua separated from its inner surface. d Bristles, to show the direction of the Fallopian tubes. e Right Fallopian tube distended into a sac which has burst, containing the extra-uterine ovum. The fœtus. g The chorion. h The ovaries; in the right one is a well marked corpus luteum. The round ligament.
This singular deviation from the usual course of conception is fortunately of rare occurrence, for few cases terminate favourably. If it be in the Fallopian tube or ovary, these become immensely distended into a species of sac or cyst, to the sides of which the placenta adheres: as the ovum in
creases, this at length gives way from excessive distention, and the patient usually dies from internal hæmorrhage. In ventral pregnancy, the sac is attached to the abdominal viscera, and is usually imbedded among the convolutions of the intestines: hence the duration of extra-uterine pregnancy will depend upon its situation: thus, if it be in the Fallopian tube, it rarely lasts beyond two months; whereas, ovarian pregnancy will continue for five or six months; on the other hand, in ventral pregnancy the fœtus will not only be carried to the full term, but far beyond that period, amounting to several years.
Although the uterus does not receive the ovum into its cavity as it does in natural conception, it nevertheless undergoes many of those changes which are known to take place in regular pregnancy. The layer of coagulable lymph, which is effused upon its internal surface, and which forms the membrana decidua of Hunter, is present, and the uterus undergoes a slight increase of volume. As the ovum increases, excruciating pains are felt in the lower part of the abdomen, coming on at irregular intervals, and of irregular duration; in some cases lasting for a short time, in others continuing for twenty-four hours. These attacks of pain are generally accompanied with very painful forcing and tenesmus, and not unfrequently with a discharge of bloody mucus from the vagina. In tubarian pregnancy, however, the case generally follows a much shorter course: the patient is suddenly seized with an acute pain in the lower part of the abdomen, followed by nausea and vomiting; she becomes faint and weak; the abdomen evidently increases in size (from effusion of blood into the cavity;) the debility becomes more alarming, and death quickly follows.
In ovarian pregnancy the fatal termination is merely postponed till a later period, during which the patient has to undergo attacks of most terrible suffering: at length, after a paroxysm more than usually severe, and frequently attended with the sensation of something giving way in the abdomen, faintings come on, speedily followed by death. During the attacks there is obstinate constipation, which is attended with painful and fruitless efforts to evacuate the bladder and rectum; the face is pale, and expressive not only of the most acute suffering, but of great anxiety and mental depression; nevertheless, in the intervals of the attacks she feels easy, and appears well and cheerful.
The termination of ventral pregnancy is very different: after a time the fœtus dies, and may either remain enclosed in the cyst for life, or it may be discharged in portions by means of an abscess, either through the intestines, uterus, vagina, or abdominal parietes. Cases have occurred where it has come away by the bladder; in the former case, where it is retained, it diminishes more or less in size, becomes hard and closely packed together, and, in some instances, encrusted with a layer of calcareous matter.
It is to our venerable friend, the late Dr. Heim, of Berlin, that we are indebted for much curious and interesting knowledge respecting extra
Our friend Dr. Nebel of Heidelberg, has 'a preparation of a fœtus which was retained for fifty-four years in the abdomen. This is the longest period on record of a fœtus being retained in the cyst of a ventral pregnancy. Many other cases have been described. (See Burns, 9th edition, where the notes contain very ample references.)
uterine pregnancy. Although the symptoms in the very early stages are so obscure as to render it nearly impossible to detect its presence, he has nevertheless observed some facts connected with it, which are peculiar, and deserve to be noticed. No morning sickness has been observed in cases of extra-uterine pregnancy, a circumstance which can easily be accounted for, if we bear in mind the causes of morning sickness in natural pregnancy: the patient could only lie on the affected side, and the abdomen was observed to swell irregularly, not in the same manner as in regular pregnancy.
In tubarian and ovarian pregnancy, the pain was in the pelvis, but in ventral pregnancy it occupied more or less the whole abdomen, the parietes of which were very tender upon pressure. In cases where the fœtus died at an early period, the symptoms gradually disappeared after a' time, especially when followed by the bursting of an abscess through the rectum or any other part. One of the most remarkable facts which Dr. Heim observed, was a peculiar whining tone of voice, with which the patient expressed her sufferings during a paroxysm of pain; so peculiar, that, when once heard, the sound can never be mistaken. On several occasions Dr. Heim was enabled by means of this symptom alone to decide confidently as to the nature of the case the moment he entered the room, a fact which would appear scarcely credible had not the results of the cases proved the correctness of his assertion. A most interesting case of this sort occurred, which he pronounced to be ventral pregnancy, and when it had gone the full term, gastrotomy was performed; a living child was extricated; but the unfortunate mother perished: she could not be induced to submit to the operation until inflammation had come on, and she died in two days after.
It must always remain a matter of great obscurity as to the immediate causes of extra-uterine pregnancy, more especially of the ovarian and ventral species; and the more so as we are still ignorant of the mechanism by which the fimbriated extremity of the Fallopian tube grasps the ovary immediately over the impregnated vesicle of de Graaf at the moment of conception. In many cases we are inclined to think that this function of the Fallopian tube is destroyed by adhesions between it and the ovary, a circumstance of not uncommon occurrence; but from the alteration in the shape and size of these parts, as also from the extensive adhesions which are usually found after death, in such cases it will ever be difficult, and perhaps impossible, to prove it.
The treatment of extra-uterine pregnancy must be chiefly guided by the prevailing symptoms: where any portion of the abdomen is very tender to the touch, leeches and warm fomentations will be required; the pain during the attacks can only be alleviated by frequently repeated opiates; and constipation must be carefully guarded against by laxatives and enemata between the paroxysms. Where an effort is made by nature to discharge the fetus by means of an abscess, the case will require all our care to sustain the powers of the system through a long protracted struggle. Portions of the foetus come away from time to time, and if the exit afforded them be by way of the intestine, the suffering produced is very great, particularly when any of the larger bones are passing. The presence of such a mass of semi-decomposed animal matter in the abdomen
is of itself sufficient to injure the general health materially: hence it is that patients, during the process of expulsion, suffer greatly from severe attacks of fever, which recur from time to time. Where the abscess opens through the abdominal parietes, the whole is completed with much greater ease and safety to the patient: in some instances the tumour has been opened, and a foetus with a large quantity of putrid pus has been removed. (Medical Obs. and Inquiries, vol. ii. p. 369.)
A case of ventral pregnancy has recently come under our care, a short account of which will enable the reader to understand the subject better than a mere enumeration of symptoms; the more so as we believe it to have been the first case of extra-uterine pregnancy in which the stethoscope has been used.
The patient, æt. 32, and the mother of four children, was admitted, May 26, 1837, into St. Bartholomew's Hospital, under Dr. Latham, who kindly consigned her to our charge. She considers herself to be six months advanced in pregnancy; is continually suffering from attacks of acute pain in the lower part of the abdomen, both at the sides and front, causing her to moan from its great severity; this is accompanied with a constant dragging pain on the right side, and in the loins: the attacks of abdominal pain go off at intervals, leaving her comparatively easy. She is pale, with an anxious expression of face. Pulse 120, and firm. Tongue moist. Bowels very constipated.
The abdomen is as large as in common pregnancy at the sixth month, but does not present the same uniform distention, being irregularly shaped. At the left hypogastrium is a soft tympanitic prominence of considerable extent, and appears, from its feel and also from auscultation, to consist of a large portion of the intestines pushed over to that side: at the inner edge of this tumour a solid mass, as large as the head of a six months' fœtus, can be felt. Between this and the median line of the abdomen, and halfway between the pubes and umbilicus, a small hard knob-like and moveable prominence is felt immediately beneath the abdominal parietes, and intensely painful to the touch. From this point, quite to the right side, the abdomen has a solid irregular feel; below this to the symphysis pubis, a very loud souffle is heard, synchronous with the mother's pulse, having all the characters of the uterine souffle in common pregnancy except its extraordinary loudness. Its limits, superiorly, are remarkably defined; below a transverse line, drawn half-way between the umbilicus and pubes, it is heard in full strength, whereas, immediately above it the sound ceases: it is also heard some way to the right side. At the upper part of the right iliac region two ridge-like prominences, like the extremities of a child, may be felt close beneath the abdominal parietes. No trace of foetal pulsation can be heard over any part of the abdomen, although it has been carefully ausculted round to the loins: it was however distinctly heard the day before we saw her, by two gentlemen who are proficients in the use of the stethoscope, and whom we consider fully capable of judging in such a case.
On examining per vaginam, the os uteri is found high up and backwards, barely within reach. Its edges are thick, soft, and closed; the cervix is short, and seems less than half an inch. The anterior portion of the inferior segment of the uterus feels somewhat firm and full, as if there