Dilation and curettage (D&C) is used for both diagnostic and curative purposes. As a diagnostic, it is used to gain a sample of tissue from the uterine lining to illuminate the cause of abnormal bleeding or discomfort. D&C might detect cancer. The scraping of the lining that D&C entails can rid the patient of certain polyps and fibroids. D&C can also be used to remove excess tissue after a miscarriage, abortion or birth. An endometrial biopsy might be performed for similar purposes.
The procedure will take a half hour or less. You may want to keep the day of and the day after the test free, however, as there may be some discomfort associated with the procedure.
You will be given anesthesia, either local or general. General anesthesia will render you unconscious, while local will leave you conscious but numb the area where the procedure is to be performed. Your legs will be placed in stirrups as for a pelvic exam. The doctor dilates (opens) the cervix by inserting a thin metal rod, and then slowly increasing its diameter, until it is about ½ inch. A curette, which is shaped like a spoon with a long handle and tiny head, is then inserted into the vagina.
If the test is a diagnostic one, the curette is used to remove tissue from the uterine lining for analysis. If it is a curative procedure, the curette will scrape the unwanted tissue from the uterus.
After the procedure, you may have mild cramps for a day or two and mild to moderate bleeding for about two weeks. If bleeding is heavy, however, especially if accompanied by strong cramps, unusual discharge, or fever, you should consult your doctor. You should abstain from sex, using tampons, and douches for two weeks. Since the procedure has removed tissue from the lining, a new uterine lining will have to grow, which may mean that your next period will come earlier or later than expected.
Last updated: 06-Jun-07