D&C (Dilation & Curretage)
What is a dilation and curettage?
Dilation and curettage (D&C) is a minor surgical procedure that is performed to open and widen the cervix (entrance to the uterus) and remove tissue from the uterus.
When is it used?
A D&C may be done to:
- Treat abnormal bleeding from the uterus.
- Diagnose uterine cancer.
- To help evaluate some cases of infertility, or inability to have children.
- Look for the cause of recurrent pelvic pain or unusual enlargement of the uterus.
- Remove polyps from the uterus.
- Remove an IUD.
- Remove pieces of placenta after childbirth.
- Remove a miscarriage (spontaneous abortion).
- Perform an abortion.
- Remove incomplete, missed, or induced abortions.
How do I prepare for a D&C?
Plan for your care and recovery after the procedure, especially if you are to have general anesthesia. Arrange to have someone take you home and stay with you for a while after the procedure. Allow for time to rest. Try to find people to help you with your daily duties for 24 hours after the procedure.
You should not smoke before and after the procedure. Smokers heal more slowly after surgery. They are also more likely to have breathing problems during surgery. For this reason, if you are a smoker, you should quit at least 2 weeks before the procedure. It is best to quit 6 to 8 weeks before surgery. Also, your wounds will heal much better if you do not smoke after the surgery.
You should not have anything to eat or drink after midnight and the morning before the procedure. Do not even drink coffee, tea, or water.
What happens during the procedure?
This procedure occurs either in the hospital or outpatient surgery center. A general anesthetic is given so that the patient is asleep.
Dr. Hardy stretches open (dilates) your cervix and guides a scooplike instrument (a curette) into the uterus. He then uses the curette to scrape all around the lining of the uterus and remove tissue from your uterus. This tissue will be sent to the lab for tests.
What happens after the procedure?
If there are no complications, you may go home a few hours after the procedure. Expect some bleeding and menstrual-type cramps for the first day or so. Dr. Hardy will give you some pain medicine to relieve the discomfort. Women who are still having periods usually have their next period 2 to 6 weeks after the D&C.
Do not place anything inside the vagina such as tampons, douching or sexual intercourse for 2 weeks after the procedure.
What are the benefits of this procedure?
Removing the uterine contents and lining may help diagnose and treat your problem. Testing this tissue may help Dr. Hardy understand your condition and suggest further care.
What are the risks associated with this procedure?
There are some risks when you have general anesthesia. Other risks include:
- infection inside the uterus
- excessive bleeding
- injury to the uterus, bladder, intestines
- an allergic reaction to the drug used in this type of anesthesia.
- scar tissue (adhesions) may form inside the uterus, requiring more surgery and treatment.
When should I call the office?
Call the office right away if:
- You have heavy bleeding from your uterus (you need more than 1 pad or tampon per hour or the bleeding is heavier than your menstrual flow).
- You develop a fever over 100°F (37.8°C).
- You have severe abdominal pain or abdominal pain that continues even after you take acetaminophen or aspirin.
- You have a foul-smelling discharge from the vagina.