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Dilation and Curettage

Dilation and Curettage (D&C) is a gynecological procedure done in an out-patient surgery setting in which the lining of the uterus (endometrium) is scraped away.  The D&C may be used to:

  • Diagnose and treat heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Diagnose, possibly remove endometrial polyps
  • Remove retained pregnancy tissue after a miscarriage, incomplete abortion, or childbirth
  • Remove tissue in the uterus that may be causing abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Obtain tissue for microscopic evaluation to rule out cancer

A D&C is done using general anesthesia. The physician inserts an instrument to hold open the vaginal walls, and then stretches the opening of the uterus to vagina (the cervix). This is done by inserting a series of tapering rods, each thicker than the previous one, or by using other specialized instruments. The process of opening the cervix is called dilation. Once the cervix is dilated, the physician inserts a spoon-shaped surgical device called a curette into the uterus. The curette is used to scrape away the uterine lining. One or more small tissue samples from the lining of the uterus or the cervical canal are sent for analysis by microscope to check for abnormal cells.

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