What is Dilation and Curettage?

dilation and curettage, also called a “D&C,” is a procedure that removes tissue from inside the uterus. It is utilized for both obstetric and gynecologic reasons. D&C is an operative procedure that may be performed in an operating room or an office setting, and usually takes less than 30minutes.

When is it used?

There are three basic reasons a physician may recommend a D&C:

Obstetric:

  1. Postpartum – to remove any remaining tissue such as placenta.
  2. To remove pregnancy tissue in the uterus after a miscarriage or abnormal pregnancy.

Gynecologic:

     3.  To stop and/or help diagnose the cause of heavy or irregular vaginal bleeding.

A physician may also recommend a hysteroscopy (a procedure used to examine the inside of the uterus, using a hysteroscope, a narrow tube with a telescope at the end) with a D&C to obtain a visual image of the inside of the uterus.

How do I prepare for a D&C?

Patients should refrain from eating and drinking prior to the procedure as recommended by their physician, and will require another individual to accompany them home. It is typical to be monitored for a few hours immediately following the D&C and discharged home the same day.

What happens after the procedure?

Common side effects of a D&C, which normally last only a few days, include vaginal spotting and cramping, and can typically be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen. Tampons should not be used, and pelvic rest should be observed until a physician has given clearance for sexual activity.

What are the risks associated with this procedure?

Complications can include:

  • Infection
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Uterine perforation
  • Formation of uterine adhesions

When should I call my healthcare provider?

Patients experiencing any of the following should contact their physician immediately:

  • Fever (temperature greater than 101) 
  •  Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
  • Prolonged or heavy bleeding
  • Cramps lasting longer than 2 days
  • Increasing pain

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Developed by Austin Regional Clinic.
Last modified: 2012-07-19
Last reviewed: 2012-07-19

This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.

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