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Early Pregnancy Unit (EPU) emergency department leaflet

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Why have I been referred to the Early Pregnancy Unit (EPU)?

  • You are reading this because you have attended the Emergency Department with bleeding or abdominal pain in the early stages of your pregnancy.
  • Patients with these symptoms can usually be safely discharged from hospital and return for the next available Early Pregnancy Unit (EPU) appointment. This is usually the case unless the bleeding is very heavy or the pain is unmanageable and requires admission to hospital.
  • At the EPU, you will be reviewed by a specialist doctor or nurse who will decide which further investigations you may need and explain to you what will happen next.

What can I do before my appointment at the EPU?

  • We understand that it may be a difficult and stressful time for you while waiting for your appointment.
  • If you would like to look for more information, advice and support, please see the Further information section for a list of useful websites.

The Early Pregnancy Unit

What will happen when I get to the EPU?

  • When you get to the EPU you will see a nurse or doctor, who will ask you about your pregnancy and take a urine sample for a pregnancy test.
  • If you have a positive urine pregnancy test, you may need an ultrasound scan. This may allow us to visualize your pregnancy. It could be an abdominal ultrasound scan, but more commonly a transvaginal ultrasound scan.

What is a transvaginal ultrasound scan?

  • During a transvaginal ultrasound scan an ultrasound probe is gently inserted into your vagina. Ultrasound waves produce images of your internal organs, and can be seen as black and white images on a TV monitor. It is a painless procedure which does not cause any harm to the foetus.
  • These are specialist scans and require significant training to perform. For this reason they can only be performed during EPU clinic appointments.

What happens if it’s too early to see anything on a transvaginal scan?

  • If it is too early in your pregnancy it may not be possible to see anything on a scan. In this situation you may be asked to come back for another scan or blood tests at a later date. This will be explained to you at the EPU.

When should I see a doctor?

While you are waiting for your appointment at the EPU, please seek medical attention if you develop any of the following symptoms:

  • Heavy bleeding: soaking through pads within one hour.
  • Lower abdominal pain worse than your usual period and not resolving with paracetamol.
  • Dizziness.
  • Fever.

Your appointment

Your EPU appointment would have been booked for with the following details:

  • Location.
  • Date.
  • Time.

How to find the EPU

At Royal Sussex County Hospital:

  • Level 11, Kemp Tower Block.
  • Telephone 01273 664402.
  • Open Mon to Fri 8.00am to 4.00pm by appointment only.

At Princess Royal Hospital:

  • Horsted Keynes Ward (2nd floor).
  • Telephone 01444 441881 Extension 8370 or Extension 5686.
  • Open Mon, Wed, Fri 8.30am until 12 noon by appointment only.

Where can I look for further information?

You can find out more about the EPU on the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust Early Pregnancy Unit webpage.

Searching on the internet may give you lots of results. It is sometimes difficult to tell good, reliable information from bad. The sites below will give you advice and information about different topics, some of which may not be relevant to you.

This information is intended for patients receiving care in Brighton & Hove or Haywards Heath.

The information in this article is for guidance purposes only and is in no way intended to replace professional clinical advice by a qualified practitioner.

Publication Date: February 2019

Review Date: October 2022

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