D and C
Dilatation and curettage; Uterus scraping; Vaginal bleeding - dilation; Uterine bleeding - dilation; Menopause - dilation
D and C (dialation and curretage) is a procedure to scrape and collect the tissue (endometrium) from inside the uterus.
- Dilation (D) is a widening of the cervix to allow instruments into the uterus.
- Curettage (C) is the scraping of the walls of the uterus.
D and C, also called uterine scraping, may be performed in the hospital or in a clinic while you are under general or local anesthesia.
The health care provider will insert an instrument called a speculum into the vagina. This holds open the vaginal canal. Numbing medicine may be applied to the opening to the uterus (cervix).
The cervical canal is widened, and a curette (a metal loop on the end of a long, thin handle) is passed through the opening into the uterus cavity. The provider gently scrapes the inner layer of tissue, called the endometrium. The tissue is collected for examination.
Why the Procedure Is Performed
This procedure may be done to:
- Diagnose or rule out conditions such as uterine cancer
- Remove tissue after a miscarriage
- Treat heavy menstrual bleeding, irregular periods, or bleeding between periods
- Perform a therapeutic or elective abortion
Your provider may also recommend a D and C if you have:
- Abnormal bleeding while you are on hormone replacement therapy
- An embedded intrauterine device (IUD)
- Bleeding after menopause
- Endometrial polyps (small lumps of tissue on the endometrium)
- Thickening of the uterus
This list may not include all possible reasons for a D and C.
After the Procedure
The D and C procedure has few risks. It can provide relief from bleeding and can help diagnose cancer and other diseases.
You may return to your normal activities as soon as you feel better, possibly even the same day.
You may have vaginal bleeding, pelvic cramps, and back pain for a few days after the procedure. You can usually manage pain well with medicines. Avoid using tampons and having sexual intercourse for 1 to 2 weeks after the procedure.
Bulun SE. Physiology and pathology of the female reproductive axis. In: Melmed S, Polonsky KS, Larsen PR, Kronenberg HM, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 17.
Lobo RA. Abnormal uterine bleeding: ovulatory and anovulatory dysfunctional uterine bleeding: management of acute and chronic excessive bleeding. In: Lentz GM, Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, Katz VL, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2012:chap 37.
Last reviewed on: 5/16/2016
Reviewed by: Irina Burd, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.