Surgical Procedures: Dilation and Curettage
What is a Dilation and Curettage and how is it performed?
A dilation and curettage (D&C) is a surgical procedure in which the uterine cervix is dilated so that tissue can be removed from the uterus. A D&C can be done to diagnose and treat many types of uterine conditions.
When used to diagnose an issue, a D&C can evaluate:
- Abnormal uterine bleeding.
- Post-menopausal bleeding.
- Endometrial cell abnormality.
- Uterine polyps.
- Uterine cancer.
- Endometrial hyperplasia.
When used as a treatment, a D&C is used in the following situations:
- Removal of a molar pregnancy.
- Excessive post-partum bleeding.
- Benign (non-cancerous) polyp removal.
- Fibroid removal.
- Retained products of conception following a miscarriage or abortion.
At times a D&C may be done with a hysteroscopy. A hysteroscopy is a procedure in which a lighted camera is inserted into the uterus to look at the lining of the uterus.
What are the risks of having a dilation and curettage?
As with any surgery, there are risks and possible side effects. These can be:
- Perforation (puncturing) the uterus.
- Damage to the cervix.
- Uterine wall scar tissue (called Asherman Syndrome).
- Infection and/or bleeding.
What is recovery like?
Recovery from a D&C may take about 1-2 days. It is normal to have cramping, spotting and light vaginal bleeding. Your next period may be late due to the need for the uterus to thicken and build a new lining.
Cramping can be relieved with over-the-counter ibuprofen, or medications recommended by your healthcare team.
You will require pelvic rest until further notice from your healthcare team. This means that you should not put anything in the vagina (tampons, vaginal intercourse, douche). Doing so can increase your risk for infection.
Symptoms to be reported to your healthcare team include:
- Heavy vaginal bleeding and/or foul smelling vaginal discharge.
- Light vaginal bleeding lasting more than two weeks.
- Cramps that last longer than 48 hours.
- Fever. Your care team will tell you at what temperature they should be contacted.
- Abdominal pain.
What will I need at home?
- Sanitary pads for vaginal bleeding/discharge.
- Thermometer to check for fever, which can be a sign of infection.