• Dilation and Curettage (D & C) Procedure

    What is a Dilation and Curettage Procedure?

    Dilation and curettage (D & C) is a procedure that is performed in the operating room and is used to diagnose and treat various gynecologic conditions.

    Why is it Ordered?

    A D & C provides a sample of uterine tissue and may be performed for a variety of reasons including:

    • Detection of uterine cancer
    • Fibroids
    • Hormone imbalance
    • Menstrual changes
    • Miscarriage
    • Polyps

    What to Expect During the Procedure

    A D & C can be performed in an outpatient clinic or operating room. You may receive some type of anesthesia before your procedure begins so you are heavily sedated or asleep--depending on your doctor's preference, which he/she will have discussed with you. Your doctor may also choose to use epidural analgesia, a type of spinal, if you have significant medical, heart or lung problems. A D & C takes approximately one hour, but check-in and recovery time may lengthen your stay to four hours.

    Similar to a Pap test, during a D & C you place your feet into stirrups and your doctor inserts a speculum into your vagina. First, the cervix is slowly opened or dilated. Then, the doctor performs the curettage procedure, during which the lining of your uterus is removed. This uterine tissue is sent to the laboratory for examination.

    Complications following D & C are infrequent, but may include:

    • Heavy bleeding
    • Infection
    • Perforation of the uterus by a surgical instrument

    Call your doctor if you experience any of the following:

    • Fever greater than 100.3°F
    • Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
    • Heavy bleeding or bleeding with clots ( using more than one full size sanitary napkin in an hour)
    • Severe abdominal pain

    What to Expect During Recovery

    Talk with your doctor about activities to avoid during recovery. Typically, you can return to most of your usual activities within a day or two. However, it is important to help your cervix heal by avoiding sexual intercourse, the use of tampons or other objects inserted into the vagina, douching, heavy lifting or vigorous exercise, the use of whirlpools or hot tubs, and taking tub baths for several weeks following the procedure. Your doctor may prescribe pain medication, if necessary.

    Before you leave the hospital or clinic procedure room, you must exhibit signs of recovery including:

    • Ability to eat clear liquid foods (i.e., tea, Jell-O, broth)
    • Ability to urinate
    • Ability to walk
    • Awareness of your surroundings
    • Stable vital signs

    You may experience some of the following:

    • Light bleeding or spotting
    • Mild cramps and discomfort
    • Scratchy throat
    • Your menstrual period may occur earlier or later in the month than expected

    You will need follow-up visits with your doctor to monitor your progress. The first appointment will occur approximately one month after the procedure so your physician may check to make sure your cervix is healing correctly. After that, you will see your doctor as he/she feels necessary to follow your recovery.

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