Dilation and Evacuation

Dilation and evacuation is the most common surgical technique used in the 2nd trimester. Generally, it is performed when the pregnancy is between 12 – 24 weeks gestational age. This is because the developing baby is bigger at this stage and bone calcification has occurred, forceps are used to empty the uterus. The cervix must be opened wider (than that required in a D&C or Suction Aspiration) to allow entry of forceps. Forceps refers to the surgical instrument resembling pliers with sharp teeth used to grab and pull out body parts/tissue. Intravenous sedation or general anesthesia may be required.

Saline (or other toxic level chemical) injection

Saline (or other toxic level chemical) injection is performed when a pregnancy is 16 weeks and beyond (when enough amniotic fluid is present to surround the baby). A long needle is inserted through the mother’s abdomen (belly) into the amniotic sac. Amniotic fluid is removed from the sac and is replaced by a very strong salt solution meant to kill the baby. By the 4th month of pregnancy, the baby has been drinking and breathing in amniotic fluid to help the organs develop properly. However, when the salt solution is substituted for the normal amniotic fluid, it causes severe burning of the baby’s skin, eyes, mouth and lungs. Labor may begin within 24 hours of the saline injection resulting in the delivery of the remnants of your pregnancy. The infant may survive this procedure and be delivered alive; but, may not live for a very long time thereafter.