How is dilation & evacuation performed?
Dilation and evacuation is a surgical abortion procedure performed after 16 weeks gestation. In most cases, 24 hours prior to the actual procedure, your abortion provider will insert laminaria or a synthetic dilator inside your cervix. When the procedure begins the next day, your abortion provider will use a tenaculum to keep the cervix and uterus in place and cone-shaped rods of increasing size are used to continue the dilation process.
A numbing medication will be used on the cervix. A shot may be given before the procedure begins to ensure fetal death has occurred. A cannula (long tube) will then be inserted to begin removing tissue away from the lining.
Then, using a curette (surgical instrument shaped like a scoop or spoon), the lining is scraped to remove any residuals. If needed, forceps may be used to remove larger parts. The last step is usually a final suctioning to make sure the contents are completely removed.
The procedure normally takes between 15-30 minutes. The fetal remains are usually examined to ensure everything was removed and that the abortion was complete. An antibiotic will be given to help prevent infection.
What are the side effects and risks of dilation & evacuation?
Common side effects include:
- cramping which may last for two weeks following the procedure
Although rare, the following are additional risks related to dilation and evacuation:
- damage to uterine lining or cervix
- perforation of the uterus
- blood clots
Contact your healthcare provider immediately if your symptoms persist or worsen.