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What is a Dilation And Curettage (D&C)?

 

Dilation And Curettage (D&C)

Dilation (dilatation) and curettage literally refers to the dilation (opening) of the cervix and surgical removal of the contents of the uterus.  It is a therapeutic gynecological procedure as well as a rarely used method of first trimester abortion.  It is commonly referred to as a D&C.

D&C normally refers to a procedure involving a curette, also called sharp curettage.  However, some sources use the term D&C to refer more generally to any procedure that involves the processes of dilation and removal of uterine contents, which includes the more common suction curettage a procedure using manual and electric vacuum aspiration.

Procedure

The first step in a D&C is to dilate the cervix, usually done a few hours before the surgery.  The woman is usually put under general anesthesia before the procedure begins.  A curette, a metal rod with a handle on one end and a sharp loop on the other, is inserted into the uterus through the dilated cervix.  The curette is used to gently scrape the lining of the uterus and remove the uterine tissue.  The tissue will be sent to a pathologist for examination of completeness (in the case of abortion or miscarriage treatment) or for tissue or cellular abnormalities (in the case of treatment for abnormal bleeding).

Clinical uses

D&Cs are commonly performed to resolve abnormal uterine bleeding (too much, too often or too heavy a menstrual flow); to remove the excess uterine lining in women who have conditions such as PCOS (which cause a prolonged buildup of tissue with no natural period to remove it);to remove tissue in the uterus that may be causing abnormal vaginal bleeding; to remove retained tissue (also known as retained POC or retained products of conception); and historically, as a method of abortion that is now uncommon.

Complications

If the procedure is performed too roughly, scar tissue may form and seal the uterus (Asherman's syndrome), resulting in infertility.  Another consequence of excessively forceful technique is uterine perforation.  Although normally no treatment is required for uterine perforation, a laparoscopy may be done to verify that bleeding has stopped on its own.  Infection of the uterus or fallopian tubes is also a possible complication, especially if the woman has an untreated sexually transmitted infection.

Having two or more sharp curettage procedures may increase the risk of complications in future pregnancies, such as ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, and placenta previa.

 

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