Dilatation and curettage (D&C) 

Introduction 

Dilatation and curettage (D&C) is a minor surgical procedure to remove tissue from the endometrium (lining of the womb).

It is carried out by a gynaecologist (a specialist in treating conditions of the female reproductive system), and takes about 10 minutes.

D&C is not carried out as frequently as it used to be, partly because there are now better non-invasive diagnostic techniques available, such as ultrasound.

When it is needed

D&C is sometimes used to help diagnose a condition, such as polyps (a growth of cells) or cancer of the womb.

It can also be used for treatment purposes – for example, to remove polyps from the womb.

Read more about the conditions D&C can diagnose or treat.

What happens

D&C is usually carried out under general anaesthetic. There are two parts to the D&C procedure:

  • dilatation – the cervix (neck of the womb) is widened
  • curettage – the endometrium (lining of the womb) is removed using a scraping instrument

D&C is often used in combination with a hysteroscopy. A hysteroscopy is a procedure that uses a narrow telescopic device (a hysteroscope) to look inside the womb. The hysteroscope is inserted into the womb, allowing the gynaecologist to check for any abnormalities, such as polyps. 

Read more about how D&C is carried out.

Outlook

After the D&C, you will need to arrange for a friend, partner or relative to take you home and stay with you for 24 hours. You should be able to return to work within two to three days. Read more about recovering from a D&C.

D&C is usually a safe and simple procedure, and associated complications are rare. Possible complications could include:

  • infection of the womb
  • heavy bleeding
  • Asherman's syndrome, where the womb is damaged, resulting in scarring

Read more about the possible complications of D&C.




Page last reviewed: 17/05/2012

Next review due: 17/05/2014

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