Dilation 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 2 procedures are done together and are often referred to as a D&C.
Dilation and Curettage
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A D&C is usually done to determine what condition is causing abnormal bleeding. Some conditions that may cause abnormal bleeding are: MiscarriageHormone imbalancesEndometrial polypsAbnormal endometrial thickeningEndometrial cancer
Sometimes a D&C is done to stop the bleeding, rather than to diagnose why you are bleeding. For example, this procedure may be done to remove products of conception or to treat bleeding that has not responded to other methods.
A D&C is not done if you have an infection, such as one that affects the uterus or fallopian tubes.
Complications 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 anesthesiaInjury to the cervixScarring of endometriumInfection of the uterus or fallopian tubesUterine perforation (hole in the uterus)BleedingDamage to other organs in the abdomenNeed for additional surgery
Possible need to remove the uterus—hysterectomy
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include having a pre-existing infection or condition.
Talk 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.
anesthesia may be used.
General anesthesia—keeps you asleep throughout the surgeryLocal anesthesia—numbs the area only
A 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.
You will be taken to a recovery room, where the nurses will monitor you.
You may be able to go home in a few hours.
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.
You will be monitored in the recovery center.
When 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.
Your next menstrual cycle may not be regular. It may be late or early.
Contact your doctor if your recovery is not progressing as expected or you develop complications, such as: Signs of infection, including fever and chills, increasing pain, or foul-smelling vaginal dischargeNausea or vomiting that does not stopAbdominal painVaginal bleeding that is saturating more than one sanitary pad per hourCough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
D&C procedure after a miscarriage. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at:
http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-complications/d-and-c-procedure-after-miscarriage. Updated November 2011. Accessed October 30, 2014.
Dilation and curettage. American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at:
http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq062.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20120813T1113192776. Accessed October 30, 2014.
Last reviewed December 2015 by Karli-Rae Kerrschneider, RN
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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