Dilation and Curettage (cont.)

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What are possible complications of a D and C?

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The D and C procedure has a low risk of serious complications. It is normal to experience vaginal bleeding and/or pelvic cramping (similar to menstrual cramping) for a few days following a D and C. Typically, over-the-counter pain medications are sufficient for pain control.

The most common complication that can occur is perforation of the uterus with either the dilators or the curette. When this happens, as long as no internal organs (intestines, bladder, or rectum) or large blood vessels are damaged, the hole will almost always heal itself without further surgery. The risk for this problem is increased in patients with a narrowed opening to the cervix (cervical stenosis) or in patients with distorted internal uterine anatomy. This risk is also increased if the uterus is infected or has undergone previous surgeries such as cesarean sections or myomectomies.

Injury to the cervix is another possible complication. Tears or cuts in the cervix can usually be treated by application of pressure and application of local medications to stop bleeding. In some cases, stitches in the cervix may be required, but this is not common.

Other complications, as with any surgery, include bleeding and infection. Most bleeding is mild and resolves on its own. Infection is also rare and can normally be managed with oral antibiotics. Most D and Cs do not require the routine use of post-operative antibiotics. On occasion, in patients with certain heart defects, the surgeon may give the patient antibiotics before and after the surgery to prevent bacteria from the vagina from infecting the heart valves.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/19/2014

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