Dilatation and curettage (D&C) is a procedure that scrapes out the inside lining of the uterus.
Usually D&C is done for one of the following reasons:
In some cases, a sample of the uterine lining is taken before D&C is done. This is called an endometrial biopsy. Or a tiny telescope, called a hysteroscope, may be used before D&C. This allows a doctor to look at the lining of the cervix and uterus before doing the D&C.
Dilatation and curettage is usually done in a surgical center, hospital or office setting. It is often an outpatient procedure. This means that a woman can go home on the same day as the procedure. A sedative medicine or even general anesthesia may be given before D&C. General anesthesia is when a woman is put completely to sleep with medications.
After a woman has a pelvic exam to check the size and direction of her uterus, a tool called a speculum is placed inside her vagina. This tool, which is also used during a Pap smear, allows the cervix to be seen. A special tool straightens the cervix and instills local numbing medicine if general anesthesia is not used. Special rods of increasing size are passed through the opening of the cervix. Once the opening is wide enough, the doctor can put other tools into the uterus.
In a D&C, the main tool put into the uterus is known as a curette, or scraper. This tool is used to scrape off the inner lining of the uterus. Scraping off the lining of the uterus may stop some types of vaginal bleeding and will terminate a pregnancy.
This tissue that was scraped off is sent to the lab. This tissue can then be examined with a microscope if needed. For example, the tissue scraped off may contain cancer of the uterus, which can be seen in the scrapings under the microscope.
In most cases, a woman is observed for an hour or two in a recovery area. This allows time for the anesthesia medicine to wear off and make sure a woman is stable. If there is no reason to stay in the hospital, most women can then go home. Some mild cramping pain is common right after the procedure, but often quickly goes away.
A D&C is considered minor surgery. No cutting or stitches are needed. Afterwards, a woman:
Though uncommon, the complications of D&C may include:
Author:David T. Moran, MD
Editor:Keefe, Sandy, RN, MSN
Reviewer:Adam Brochert, MD