A dilation and curettage procedure is also called a D&C. It is a surgery to remove abnormal tissues in the uterus. Your healthcare provider will first expand (dilate) the lower narrow part of the uterus (cervix). Next, he or she will scrape out the lining of the uterus (endometrium) with a spoon-shaped tool.
A suction D&C uses suction to remove uterine contents. This is sometimes called a dilation and evacuation (D&E).
Your healthcare provider may suggest a D&C to diagnose or treat abnormal uterine bleeding. He or she may also use D&C to find cancer, or as part of infertility testing.
Abnormal bleeding may be caused by fibroids, polyps, or cancer of the uterus or its lining. Abnormal uterine bleeding may also be due a hormone problem. This is especially true in women around menopause.
Your provider may use a D&C after miscarriage to remove the fetus and other tissues if they have not all passed on their own. Infection or heavy bleeding can happen if these tissues are not fully removed. This type of D&C may also be called a surgical evacuation of the uterus or a D&E.
Sometimes after giving birth, small pieces of the placenta stay stuck to the endometrium and are not passed. This can cause bleeding or infection. Your provider may use D&C to remove these pieces so that the endometrium can heal.
Your healthcare provider may have other reasons to suggest a D&C.
Some possible complications of a D&C may include:
Tell your healthcare provider if you are allergic to or sensitive to medicines, iodine, or latex.
If you are pregnant or think you could be, tell your healthcare provider.
You may have other risks based on your condition. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider before the procedure.
A vaginal, cervical, or pelvic infection may interfere with a D&C.
Your healthcare provider may do a D&C in his or her office or during a hospital stay. Procedures may vary based on your condition and your healthcare provider's practices.
The type of anesthesia will depend on what procedure you have. You may be asleep under general anesthesia. Or, you may stay awake under spinal or epidural anesthesia. In this case, you will have no feeling from your waist down. The anesthesiologist will continuously check your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and blood oxygen level during the surgery.
Generally, a D&C follows this process:
The recovery process will vary based on the type of procedure done and type of anesthesia that was used.
If you get regional or general anesthesia, you will go to the recovery room and be watched. Once your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing are stable and you are alert, you will go to your hospital room or be discharged home. If you had this procedure as an outpatient, have another person drive you home.
After a D&C using local anesthesia, you may rest for about 2 hours before going home.
You may want to wear a sanitary pad for bleeding. It is normal to have some spotting or light vaginal bleeding for a few days after the procedure.
You may have cramping for the first few days after a D&C.
Do not use tampons, or have sex for 2 to 3 days after a D&C, or for a period recommended by your healthcare provider.
You may also have other limits on your activity, including no strenuous activity or heavy lifting.
Because a D&C removes the lining of the uterus, the lining must build back up. Your next period may start earlier or later than usual.
You may go back to your normal diet unless your healthcare provider tells you otherwise.
Take a pain reliever for cramping or soreness as recommended by your healthcare provider. Aspirin or certain other pain medicines may increase the chance of bleeding. Be sure to take only recommended medicines.
Your healthcare provider will advise you on when to return for more treatment or care.
Tell your healthcare provider if you have any of the following:
Your healthcare provider may give you other instructions after the procedure, based on your situation.
Before you agree to the test or the procedure make sure you know: