Lisa Savage, MD


Article: Dilation and Curettage

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Dilation and curettage (D&C) is a procedure used to diagnose or treat many conditions that cause abnormal bleeding from the uterus. It also can be used to help detect cancer of the uterus.

Reasons for a D&C

A D&C may be done to assess the cause of abnormal bleeding. It provides a sample of the tissue in the uterus. It also may be done when a woman is having a miscarriage or after she has had one.

The D&C Procedure

A D&C can be done in a doctor's office, an outpatient clinic, or a hospital. The D&C also may be done with other procedures, such as hysteroscopy, in which a slender, light-transmitting device is used to view the inside of the uterus.

Your doctor may want to start dilating your cervix before surgery.

Before your doctor begins the D&C, you may receive some type of anesthesia.

During the procedure, you will lie on your back and your legs will be placed in stirrups. The doctor will then insert a speculum into your vagina as is done with a pelvic exam. The cervix is held in place with a clamp.

The cervix is then slowly opened (dilated). Tissue lining the uterus is removed, either with an instrument called a curette or with suction.


Complications are rare. When they do occur, they include bleeding, infection, or perforation (when the tip of an instrument passes through the wall of the uterus).

In rare cases, after a D&C for miscarriage, bands of scar tissue, or adhesions, may form inside the uterus. This is called Asherman's syndrome.


After the procedure, you probably will be able to go home within a few hours. You will need someone to take you home. You should be able to resume most of your regular activities in one or two days.

After a D&C, a new lining will build up in the uterus. Your next menstrual period may not occur at the regular time. It may be early or late.


A D&C usually is free of problems. The recovery period is short. If you have a D&C, your doctor will ask that you make an appointment to see him or her soon after surgery to discuss the results.

This excerpt from ACOG's Patient Education Pamphlet is provided for your information. It is not medical advice and should not be relied upon as a substitute for visiting your doctor. If you need medical care, have any questions, or wish to receive the full text of this Patient Education Pamphlet, please contact your obstetrician-gynecologist. To ensure the information is current and accurate, ACOG titles are reviewed every 18 months.


Copyright © Dr. Lisa Savage, MD. All rights reserved.