Cervical preparation for second-trimester surgical abortion prior to 20 weeks' gestation: SFP Guideline #2013-4

Michelle C. Fox, Colleen M. Krajewski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


For a dilation and evacuation (D&E) procedure, the cervix must be dilated sufficiently to allow passage of operative instruments and products of conception without injuring the uterus or cervical canal. Preoperative preparation of the cervix reduces the risk of cervical laceration and uterine perforation. The cervix may be prepared with osmotic dilators, pharmacologic agents or both. Dilapan-S™ and laminaria are the two osmotic dilators currently available in the United States. Laminaria tents, made from dehydrated seaweed, require 12-24 h to achieve maximum dilation. Dilapan-S™, made of synthetic hydrogel, achieves significant dilation within 4 h and is thus preferable for same-day procedures. A single set of one to several dilators is usually adequate for D&E before 20 weeks' gestation. Misoprostol, a prostaglandin E1 analogue, is sometimes used instead of osmotic dilators. It is generally regarded as safe and effective; however, misoprostol achieves less dilation than overnight osmotic tents. The literature supports same-day cervical preparation with misoprostol or Dilapan-S™ up to 18 weeks' gestation. As the evidence regarding alternative regimens increases, highly experienced D&E providers may consider same-day regimens at later gestations utilizing serial doses of misoprostol or a combination of osmotic and pharmacologic agents. Misoprostol use as an adjunct to overnight osmotic dilation is not significantly beneficial before 19 weeks' gestation. Limited data demonstrate the safety of misoprostol before D&E in patients with a prior cesarean delivery. Mifepristone, a progesterone receptor antagonist, is also effective for cervical preparation prior to D&E, although data to support its use are limited. The Society of Family Planning recommends preoperative cervical preparation to decrease the risk of complications when performing a D&E. Since no single protocol has been found to be superior in all situations, clinical judgment is warranted when selecting a method of cervical preparation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-84
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • Cervical dilation
  • Cervical priming
  • Dilapan
  • Dilation and evacuation
  • Dilator
  • Lamicel
  • Laminaria
  • Mifepristone
  • Misoprostol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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