SURGICAL ABORTION PROCEDURES

Vacuum Aspiration Abortion

Performed up to week 14 of pregnancy

  • A local anesthetic is applied or injected into or near the cervix, the opening to the womb, to prevent discomfort or pain.
  • Conscious sedation and/or general anesthesia are also commonly used.
  • The opening of the cervix is gradually stretched with a series of dilators. The thickest dilator used is about the width of a fountain pen.
  • A tube is inserted into the womb and is attached to a suction system to remove the fetus, placenta and membranes from the womb.
  • Occasionally, this is followed by a procedure to scrape the walls of the uterus, making sure it has been completely emptied of the unborn child and placenta.
  • A follow-up appointment should be made with the doctor.
Common Complications:
  • Incomplete abortion
  • Pelvic infection
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Torn cervix
  • Perforated cervix

Dilation and Curettage Abortion

Performed up to week 14 of pregnancy

  • A local anesthetic is applied or injected into or near the cervix to prevent discomfort or pain.
  • Conscious sedation and/or general anesthesia are also commonly used.
  • The opening of the cervix is gradually stretched with a series of dilators. The thickest dilator used is about the width of a fountain pen.
  • A spoon-like instrument (curette) is used to scrape the walls of the uterus to remove the fetus, placenta and membranes.
  • A follow-up appointment should be made with the doctor.
Common Complications:  
  • Incomplete abortion requiring vacuum aspiration
  • Pelvic infection
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Torn cervix
  • Weakened cervix
  • Perforated cervix

Dilation & Extraction (D&E)

Performed after 14 weeks of pregnancy

  • Sponge-like pieces of absorbent material are placed into the cervix. This material becomes moist and slowly opens the cervix. It remains in place for several hours or overnight. A second or third application of the sponge material may be necessary.
  • Following dilation of the cervix, medications may be given to ease pain and prevent infection.
  • After a local or general anesthesia has been administered, the fetus and placenta are removed from the uterus with medical instruments such as forceps and suction curettage.
  • Occasionally for removal, it may be necessary to dismember the fetus.
Common Complications:
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Cut or torn cervix
  • Perforation of the wall of the uterus
  • Pelvic infection
  • Anesthesia-related complication
  • Weakened cervix
  • Incomplete Abortion

Citations

Information for this page is taken from Abortion: A Woman’s Right to Know, a publication of the Georgia Department of Public Health and can be found at https://dph.georgia.gov/womens-health/womens-right-know-wrtk