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Suction and Curettage

What is it?
This is a surgical procedure that uses a mechanical suction machine to remove the pregnancy tissue from the uterus. It can be done with a general anesthetic, where you will be asleep, or a local anesthetic is used to freeze the cervix. The cervical opening is dilated (widened) by inserting and removing a series of narrow, tapered rods, each slightly wider in diameter than the last. The doctor inserts a hollow tube into the uterus which is attached to an aspirator machine (similar to the one dentists use to clear the mouth of saliva). The suction is turned on and the doctor moves the tube back and forth for a short time. When the uterus is empty, the suction is stopped. The walls of the uterus are then gently felt with a loop-shaped instrument (called a curette) to make sure no tissue remains.

For a hospital abortion under general anesthetic, a dilator (device to open the uterus) or misoprostol medication must be used prior to surgery to prepare the uterus.

Women having suction and curettage abortions should have someone accompany them to the clinic or hospital and help them get home. Normal activities can be resumed in the next day or two. However, it may take up to a week for a full recovery. A follow-up exam is done three weeks later to make sure the procedure is complete.

When is the procedure done?
A suction and curettage abortion is done later in the first trimester from 6 to 14 weeks. The size is determined by ultrasound.

Advantages

  • safe and simple
  • can be done later in the first trimester
  • less than one percent chance that the abortion will be incomplete

Disadvantages

  • abdominal cramping and pain are common; most women recover quickly but cramps may continue for up to a week following the procedure
  • menstrual-like bleeding possible for up to two weeks after procedure
  • full recovery may take up to a week
  • serious complications, like infection or damage to the uterus, are possible but rare; the risk of complications increases with more advanced pregnancies

 

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Infections and Safer Sex

What to expect

Manual Vacuum Aspiration

Medical Abortion

Suction and Curettage

Dilation and Evacuation

  • A publication of:
  • Women's College Hospital