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Vacuum Aspiration

Vacuum aspiration, also called suction aspiration, is a minor surgical procedure used to clear the contents of the uterus during the first trimester of pregnancy. A thin, hollow tube (cannula) is inserted into the uterus. Then a specially designed syringe or pump is used to suction out all tissue contained in the uterus.

Manual vacuum aspiration (MVA) can be used between 5 and 12 weeks after the last menstrual period. A hollow tube is passed through the cervix and into the uterus, and a handheld syringe is used to apply suction through the thin tube. MVA can be done safely in a clinic or medical office setting.

Machine vacuum aspiration is the most common abortion method used in the first 5 to 12 weeks of pregnancy. First, the cervix is opened (dilated) and antibiotics are given to prevent infection. A hollow tube (attached to a bottle and pump) is then passed into the uterus. The pump is turned on, and all tissue is gently removed from the uterus.

Vacuum aspiration is also used to empty the uterus after an incomplete miscarriage.

Last Revised: August 31, 2012

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Rebecca H. Allen, MD, MPH - Obstetrics and Gynecology & Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology

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