Process and Information on Vacuum Aspiration
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- Vacuum Aspiration, also known as suction aspiration or aspiration curettage, is a surgical abortion method.
- This is an outpatient surgery, performed under general or local anesthesia. It takes about 10-15 minutes.
- The cervix is dilated and the embryo is suctioned out.
This page provides information on the procedure, possible risk factors, and other considerations.
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What is Vacuum Aspiration?
Aspiration, also known as vacuum aspiration or suction abortion, is the most common type of in-clinic abortion.
Overview of important facts:
- Vacuum aspiration is a type of surgical abortion. Other forms of surgical abortion are D&C, D&E, and induction.
- It is usually performed between the 5th and 16th week of pregnancy.
- Aspiration is an outpatient procedure that takes 10-15 minutes.
- It is most commonly performed under sedation but can also be done under local anesthesia, which is applied to the cervix.
- Your doctor may refer to this procedure as MVA (Manual Vacuum Aspiration) or EVA (Electrical Vacuum Aspiration). While an electrical pump (EVA) is used in 90% of cases, using a handheld syringe (MVA) is equally effective.
- According to BMJ, vacuum aspirations are the most common method of abortion in many countries.
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Before the Procedure
If the pregnant woman has never given birth, she may be given prostaglandins (usually Misoprostol or Cytotec) a few hours before the procedure. These hormones, which cause the cervix to soften, are administered vaginally as a tablet or gel. Hormone injections are rarely used.
Immediately before the procedure, an anesthesiologist administers the sedation or general or local anesthesia as is routine for any surgery.
During the Procedure
The procedure itself takes about ten to fifteen minutes. The doctor proceeds as follows:
- The opening of the cervix is dilated with special rods (i.e., Hegar dilators).
- The doctor then inserts a flexible plastic tube through the dilated cervix and into the uterus. This is connected to a suction machine (EVA) or a hand pump (MVA).
- Via suction, the uterus is emptied of the embryo and the placenta.
- After the procedure, the physician examines the extracted material to ensure the abortion is complete. He may also use ultrasound to check whether the uterus is empty. If there is a remnant, it is removed by repeating a suction aspiration or by performing a D&C to avoid infection.
- An antibiotic is commonly given on the day of operation to prevent infection.
After the Procedure
About two hours after the procedure, the woman is discharged home. If any sedation was used, the patient will not be permitted to drive for the remainder of the day. It is also recommended that someone stay with her overnight. A follow-up visit is recommended seven to fourteen days after an aspiration abortion.
It may be necessary to arrange for extra help in the days following the procedure.
How Safe Is a Vacuum Aspiration?
Suction abortion tends to have fewer complications than a D&C or a D&E. Nevertheless, even suction aspiration has certain risks and side effects. Before the procedure, the doctor will discuss potential risks with you.
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Where Do I Go from Here?
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- Pregnant and Anxious
- webmd.com (as of September 2021)
- Paul, M., Lichtenberg, S., Borgatta, L., Grimes, D. A., Stubblefield, P. G., & Creinin, M. D. (2009b). Management of Unintended and Abnormal Pregnancy: Comprehensive Abortion Care (1st ed.). Wiley-Blackwell. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781444313031
- Uptodate.com (as of September 2021)
- BMJ Sexual and Reproductive Health: Vol.45, Issue 2
Vacuum aspiration (a.k.a., suction) abortion is an outpatient surgical abortion method. Internationally, this is the most common abortion procedure. The name says it all: The embryo and placenta are drawn out of the uterus via vacuum suction.
Before the procedure, a prostaglandin is usually given to relax the cervix. During the procedure, which is performed under local anesthesia or sedation, a pump is used to suction out the embryo and placenta. Post surgery, the woman will need someone to drive her home and stay with her.
Very few complications are associated with this type of surgical abortion procedure. Information on possible risks and side effects (of the procedure and sedation) are provided during the pre-op interview. A follow-up appointment after 7 to 14 days is necessary in order to determine whether any part of the embryo remained in the uterus.