Dilatation and evacuation (D&E) is a surgical abortion method performed on pregnancies of over 15 weeks.
This method uses instruments and suction to remove the pregnancy while you are asleep. It is usually performed between 15 and 24 weeks of pregnancy. In addition to the procedure described below, you will need cervical preparation on the day of surgery, or the day before.
You will be asked to change into a gown and to lie down on a trolley. Your anaesthetist will meet you, answer your questions and take you into theatre. A small cannula (a very fine plastic tube) is placed in a vein, normally in your hand. General anaesthetic medication is given through the cannula to make you sleep.
Once you are asleep, your legs are placed in supports and the doctor examines your uterus (womb). A speculum is inserted into your vagina. The opening of your cervix may be stretched with thin rods called dilators. The pregnancy is removed using narrow forceps passed through the neck of the womb.
A tube is then inserted through the cervix and a suction machine is used to gently complete the evacuation. You won't feel any pain during the procedure, which takes about 10-20 minutes from start to finish. You will wake in the recovery area and be observed for about 1-2 hours before going home.