Dilation and Curettage
DefinitionDilation is a procedure to open and widen the cervix. The cervix is the entrance to the uterus. Curettage is the removal of the lining of the uterus by scraping. The lining is known as the endometrium. The two procedures are done together and are often referred to as a D&C.
|Dilation and Curettage|
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Reasons for ProcedureA D&C is usually done to determine what condition is causing abnormal bleeding. Some conditions that may cause abnormal bleeding are:
- Hormone imbalances
- Endometrial polyps
- Abnormal endometrial thickening
- Endometrial cancer
Possible ComplicationsComplications are rare. But no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a D&C, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, such as:
- Complications related to anesthesia
- Injury to the cervix
- Scarring of endometrium
- Infection of the uterus or fallopian tubes
- Uterine perforation (hole in the uterus)
- Damage to other organs in the abdomen
- Need for additional surgery
- Possible need to remove the uterus ( hysterectomy )
What to Expect
Prior to ProcedureTalk to your doctor about all the medications you are taking. Up to one week before the surgery, you may be asked to stop taking some medications.In addition, arrange for a ride home and for help at home.
AnesthesiaGeneral or local anesthesia may be used.
- General anesthesia—keeps you asleep throughout the surgery
- Local anesthesia—numbs the area only
Description of ProcedureA pelvic exam will be done to find out the size and location of the uterus. The vagina and cervix will be cleaned with an antiseptic solution. A speculum will be placed in the vagina. An instrument called a cervical dilator will be placed into the cervical canal. Once the cervical canal is slightly open, a scoop-shaped instrument, called a curette, will be inserted into the uterus. It will be used to scrape the uterine lining and remove tissue through the vagina. After sampling the endometrium, the instrument will be removed from the cervix.
Immediately After ProcedureYou will be taken to a recovery room, where the nurses will monitor you.
How Long Will It Take?You may be able to go home in a few hours.
Will It Hurt?If you have general anesthesia, you will have no pain during the procedure. With local anesthesia, you may have some cramping and back pain.After the procedure, pain may last up to 24 hours.
Post-procedure CareAt the Care CenterYou will be monitored in the recovery center.At HomeWhen you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
- It is common to have some vaginal bleeding and discharge after a D&C. Use sanitary pads, not tampons.
- Refrain from placing anything inside your vagina until instructed by your doctor. The cervix has been opened. This may make it easier for you to get an infection in the uterus.
- Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions.
Call Your DoctorAfter arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occur:
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills, increasing pain, or foul-smelling vaginal discharge
- Nausea or vomiting that does not stop
- Abdominal pain
- Vaginal bleeding that is saturating more than one sanitary pad per hour
- Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Women's Health—US Department of Health and Human Services
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Women's Health Matters
D&C procedure after a miscarriage. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: http://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancycomplications/dandc.html. Updated November 2011. Accessed October 30, 2014.
Dilation and curettage. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq062.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20120813T1113192776. Published May 2012. Accessed October 30, 2014.
- Reviewer: Andrea Chisholm, MD
- Review Date: 12/2014
- Update Date: 12/20/2014