Dilation and Curettage (D&C)

In-Office Procedures, Hospital Procedures

One of the procedures that the Doctors of the Women's Clinic use to treat our patients is called dilation and curettage, often referred to as a D&C, is a procedure used to diagnose or treat many conditions that cause abnormal bleeding from the uterus. It also can be used to help detect cancer of the uterus. Dilation means to stretch the opening of the cervix to make it wider. Curettage involves removing a sample of the endometrium to be examined later.

A D&C provides a sample of the tissue in the uterus, which can be viewed under a microscope to tell whether any cells are abnormal. Often a D&C is done to remove this tissue and this is vital because the tissue may cause infection or heavy bleeding.

The D&C is usually done in a clinic or sometimes a hospital. Your gynecologist may suggest dilating your cervix before surgery. If so, a slender rod will be inserted into the opening of the cervix. It will be left in several hours. The rod absorbs fluid from the cervix. This causes the cervix to swell and the opening to widen. Another way to open the cervix is to use a medication to soften it. You anesthesia will also be administered at this point.

During the procedure, you will lie on your back and your legs will be placed in stirrups. The doctor will then insert a speculum into your vagina as is done with a pelvic exam. The cervix is held in place with a clamp. The cervix is then slowly opened (dilated). Tissue lining the uterus is removed, either with an instrument called a curette or with suction. In most cases, the tissue then will be sent to a laboratory for examination.

As with any procedures there is a risk of complications that may include bleeding, infection, or tearing of the uterus. If tearing occurs, nearby organs may be damaged and further surgery may be required, but this is extremely rare. If you have heavy bleeding, fever, pain in the abdomen or a foul-smelling discharge from your vagina you need to contact your gynecologist. The most common symptoms after a D&C are sore throat, mild cramping and spotting or light bleeding.

Your gynecologist will most likely restrict you from having sex or using tampons until the cervix is healed in order to prevent infections. They will be able to answer any questions or concerns you may have and be able to discuss any additional options you may have.