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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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:
Infection or conditions that are present before the surgery can increase the risk of problems.
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.
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.
Care team will monitor you in recovery room.
You may be able to go home in a few hours.
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.
You will be monitored in the recovery center.
You can return to most normal activities in 1 to 2 days.
Contact your doctor if your recovery is not going as you expect or you have problems, such as:
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