My watch list  

Dilation and curettage

Dilation and curettage
Abortion type Surgical
First use Late 19th century
Gestation 4-12 weeks
WHO recommends only when manual vacuum aspiration is unavailable
United States 1.7% (2003)
Medical notes
Undertaken under heavy sedation or general anesthesia. Risk of perforation. Day-case procedure
Infobox references

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.[1][2] It is commonly referred to as a D&C.

D&C normally refers to a procedure involving a curette, also called sharp curettage.[1] 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 procedures of manual and electric vacuum aspiration.[3]



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 tissue in the uterus. This tissue is examined for completeness (in the case of abortion or miscarriage treatment) or pathologically for abnormalities (in the case of treatment for abnormal bleeding).[1]

Clinical uses

D&Cs are commonly performed to resolve abnormal uterine bleeding (too much, too often or too heavy a menstrual flow);[2] 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);[citation needed] to remove tissue in the uterus that may be causing abnormal vaginal bleeding;[1] to remove retained tissue (also known as retained POC or retained products of conception) in the case of an incomplete miscarriage;[3] and historically, as a method of abortion that is now uncommon.[1]

Methods of abortion
Part of the abortion series


Because medical and non-invasive methods of abortion now exist, and because D&C requires heavy sedation or general anesthesia and has higher risks of complication, the procedure has been declining as a method of abortion. The World Health Organization recommends D&C as a method of abortion only when manual vacuum aspiration is unavailable.[4] According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, D&C only accounted for 2.4% of abortions in the United States in the year 2002,[5] down from 23.4% in 1972.[6]


If the procedure is performed too roughly, scar tissue may form and seal the uterus shut (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.[1]

Having two or more sharp curettage procedures may increase the risk of complications in future pregnancies, such as ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, and placenta previa.[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Dilation and sharp curettage (D&C) for abortion. Healthwise. WebMD (2004-10-07). Retrieved on 2007-04-29.
  2. ^ a b Hayden, Merrill (2006-02-22). Dilation and curettage (D&C) for dysfunctional uterine bleeding. Healthwise. WebMD. Retrieved on 2007-04-29.
    Nissl, Jan (2005-01-18). Dilation and curettage (D&C) for bleeding during menopause. Healthwise. WebMD. Retrieved on 2007-04-29.
  3. ^ a b What Every Pregnant Woman Needs to Know About Pregnancy Loss and Neonatal Death. The Unofficial Guide to Having a Baby. WebMD (2004-10-07). Retrieved on 2007-04-29.
  4. ^ Dilatation and curettage. A-Z Managing Complications in Pregnancy and Childbirth by WHO. Retrieved on February 20, 2006.
  5. ^ Abortion Surveillance --- United States, 2002. MMWR Surveillance Summaries. Retrieved on February 20, 2006.
  6. ^ Abortion Surveillance -- United States, 1990. MMWR Surveillance Summaries. Retrieved on February 20, 2006.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Dilation_and_curettage". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
Your browser is not current. Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 does not support some functions on Chemie.DE