The dilatation and curettage procedure takes only 10 to 15 minutes and is usually performed at the doctor’s clinic or in the hospital. However, you may need to stay in the clinic or hospital for up to 5 hours.
What does D&C mean?
Dilatation and curettage or D&C is a short surgical procedure that is done to remove tissues from your womb (uterus) after an abortion or miscarriage or diagnose the reason for your heavy bleeding.
In the suction curettage, the doctor uses a suction machine, and the contents of the uterus are suctioned out at the pressure of 60-65 cm Hg.
Why does the doctor suggest D&C?
Your obstetrician may suggest D&C for several reasons. It is performed to
- Remove remaining tissues from your womb during or after a miscarriage or abortion to avoid infection and heavy bleeding.
- Remove placental tissue from your womb after childbirth, thereby avoiding infection and heavy bleeding.
- Diagnose or treat unexplained or abnormal heavy vaginal bleeding due to fibroids, polyps, hormonal imbalances, or cancer of the uterus. The sample of womb tissue will be checked under a microscope in the laboratory for any abnormalities (biopsy).
- Remove a molar pregnancy (tumor).
What happens during the procedure?
Before the procedure:
- You will be informed not to take anything by mouth for at least 6-8 hours.
- You may receive sedation to put you to sleep for a short time if the procedure is performed in the hospital.
- If the procedure is performed in clinical settings, then you may receive some injections that will numb your cervix and will make it easier to open.
During the procedure:
- Your obstetrician will place a device known as a speculum to widen the opening of your uterus (cervix) that may cause cramping.
- After dilating (opening) the cervix, the tissues from inside the uterus will be removed with a scraping instrument known as a curette, a suction tube, and other specialized tools.
- Your doctor may insert a special scope with an attached camera known as a hysteroscope, which provides a magnified view of the inside of the uterus. This is especially used when you are not pregnant and have abnormal bleeding.
After the procedure:
- You may need someone to take you home.
- If you have received general anesthesia, then you may feel dizzy or feel nauseated and you may vomit.
- You may have mild cramping or slight bleeding (spotting) for a few days, which is normal.
- You may receive pain relievers, such as Ibuprofen or Paracetamol.
- You can resume daily activities within 1 or 2 days unless your doctor instructs you.
- Delay sex and use of tampons until your doctor instructs you to. It is normal to have some vaginal bleeding for a few days after the procedure. There may be cramping for the first few days after a D&C.
- You may get your periods after 4-6 weeks of the procedure.
What are the possible complications?
Mostly, D&C is a safe procedure, but there are some possible complications, such as
- Tear or rupture of the uterus (womb)
- Scar tissue formation
- Reactions to anesthesia
- Tears in the cervix
- Uterine bleeding
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Mayoclinic. Dilation and curettage (D&C). https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/dilation-and-curettage/about/pac-20384910
Victoria State Government. Dilation and curettage (D&C). https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/dilatation-and-curettage-dc
American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Dilation and curettage (D&C). https://www.reproductivefacts.org/news-and-publications/patient-fact-sheets-and-booklets/documents/fact-sheets-and-info-booklets/dilation-and-curettage-dc/
John Hopkins Medicine. Dilation and curettage (D and C). https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/dilation-and-curettage-d-and-c
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