Pregnancy outcomes after removal of osmotic dilators in patients who presented for second-trimester abortion.

Mark K, Merchant RM, Hu K

Jan 2019


The objective was to report pregnancy outcomes and potentially related complications among 13 patients who had osmotic dilators placed for second-trimester dilation and evacuation (D&E) followed by subsequent removal with the intention to continue their pregnancies.

Study design

We reviewed billing and scheduling data between 2005 and 2017 to identify the total number of women seen for D&E and to identify the individuals who had dilators placed without a subsequent scheduled dilation and evacuation. We then performed chart reviews to determine pregnancy outcomes.


Between 2005 and 2017, we treated 2532 patients who presented for second-trimester abortions by D&E and received osmotic dilators for cervical preparation. Twenty (0.8%) of these women had cervical dilators removed with the intention of continuing their pregnancies. We could obtain outcome data for 13 of these pregnancies; one of these women ultimately elected to have an abortion. Eight of the remaining 12 women (66%) experienced complications which included premature preterm rupture of membranes, preterm delivery, maternal infection and hemorrhage. Six (50%) pregnancies ended in spontaneous abortion or fetal or neonatal death.


Continuation of pregnancy after placement and removal of osmotic dilators may increase the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes.


Of the women who had outcome data available, 50% who had cervical dilators removed experienced spontaneous abortion or fetal or neonatal death. Conservatively assuming that all women lost to follow-up had healthy pregnancies, 30% of women experienced fetal or neonatal death and 40% had an adverse pregnancy outcome.