D&E, also known as dilation and evacuation, is a surgical procedure to terminate a pregnancy. A D&E abortion is usually performed during the second trimester of a pregnancy (roughly 13 to 24 weeks since conception). This procedure usually includes a combination of vacuum aspiration, dilation and curettage (D&C), and the use of surgical instruments (such as forceps).
During a D&E, a device called a osmotic (cervical) dilator is usually inserted in the cervix 24 hours before the procedure. This helps the cervix to slowly dilate (open up). A D&E typically takes place in a hospital or clinic by a trained healthcare provider and only takes about 30 minutes.
The D&E method of abortion is nearly 100% effective because the healthcare provider will examine the removed uterine tissue to ensure that all of it was removed and the abortion is complete. Some healthcare providers will also use an ultrasound during the procedure to confirm that all of the tissue has been removed and the pregnancy has ended.
A woman may seek a D&E during her second trimester to terminate a pregnancy.
Paul, M. (1999). A clinician's guide to medical and surgical abortion. New York: Churchill Livingstone.