Dilation and Curettage (D&C)

Last Updated: August 26, 2018

Definition - What does Dilation and Curettage (D&C) mean?

Dilation and curettage (D&C) is a surgical procedure to remove tissue from the uterus. A D&C can be performed to treat uterine conditions or as a diagnostic procedure. The procedure is common and low risk, but may require a day or two of recovery.

FertilitySmarts explains Dilation and Curettage (D&C)

A D&C is performed for several reasons.

Diagnosis of uterine conditions in the following circumstances:

  • Unexplained uterine bleeding
  • Bleeding after menopause

Treatment of a condition:

  • Following the birth of a baby, to avoid excessive bleeding
  • Removal of fibroid tumors
  • Removal of uterine or cervical polyps
  • Removal of tissue following a miscarriage or surgical abortion

A D&C is typically a safe and common procedure with minimal risks. In rare circumstances the following complications can arise:

  • Infection
  • Cervical damage
  • Uterine scar tissue
  • Uterine perforation

A D&C is typically performed in a hospital or medical clinic. It is an outpatient procedure, and following an observation period (typically lasting several hours), women can return home that day. Women preparing for a D&C will typically be told to restrict food and drinks in preparation for the anesthesia provided at the time of the procedure.

To perform a D&C, a physician uses a combination of tools and medication to access the uterus by opening the cervix. This process is called dilation. Once the cervix is opened, the uterus is exposed, and the tissue can be removed by a small vacuum or sharp tool, both of which are called curettes.

Following a D&C it is common to experience several days of light vaginal bleeding and mild discomfort.

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