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 procedures are done together and often called a D&C.
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Reasons for Procedure
A D&C may be done to find the cause of abnormal bleeding or treat it. For example, it may be done to treat bleeding that has not responded to other methods. Some common issues that may be treated wit D&C are:
A D&C is not done if you have an infection in the area.
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 problems, 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
Infection or conditions that are present before the surgery can increase the risk of problems.
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Some medicine may need to be stopped up to 1 week before the surgery. Talk to the care team about any medicine you are taking.
In addition, arrange for a ride home and for help at home.
General or local anesthesia may be used.
- General anesthesia—keeps you asleep throughout the surgery
- Local anesthesia—numbs the area only
Description of Procedure
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 canal. A scoop-shaped instrument will be passed into the uterus. It will scrape the uterine lining. The tissue will be removed through the vagina. The tools will be removed once the work is done.
Immediately After Procedure
Care team will monitor you in recovery room.
How Long Will It Take?
You may be able to go home in a few hours.
Will It Hurt?
You may have some cramping and back pain with local anesthesia.
There will be some pain up to 24 hours after the procedure. Medicine and home care will help.
At the Care Center
You will be monitored in the recovery center.
You can return to most normal activities in 1 to 2 days.
Call Your Doctor
Contact your doctor if your recovery is not going as you expect or you have problems, such as:
- 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 1 sanitary pad per hour
- Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
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://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-complications/d-and-c-procedure-after-miscarriage. Accessed December 13, 2020.
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 December 13, 2020.
Last reviewed November 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Last Updated: 12/20/2020