1. Health
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

D&E (Dilation and Evacuation)


Updated April 05, 2011

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

D&E (Dilation and Evacuation)
Photo Courtesy of Medioimages/Photodisc/Getty Images

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.

Also Known As: Dilation and Evacuation, TOP or STOP, (Surgical) Termination Of Pregnancy, ERPOC, Evacuation of Retained Products of Conception

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.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.