Dilation and Curettage (D&C) | Cancer | Loyola Medicine

Dilation and Curettage (D&C)

What Is Dilation and Curettage (D&C)?

In this procedure, your doctor removes a sample inside your uterus. This is done with the use of medication or small instruments to dilate your cervix. Then, a small amount of uterine tissue is surgically removed with an instrument called a curette.

Dilation and curettage (D&C) is used to either diagnose or treat conditions such as uterine polyps or endometrial cancer. It also can be used to diagnose abnormal uterine bleeding, remove infected tissue or examine potentially cancerous tumors. 

What to Expect with Dilation and Curettage (D&C)

You will receive either local or general anesthesia for this procedure. Your doctor will dilate your cervix and insert the curette to collect a small amount of tissue from the uterine wall lining. This tissue will be sent to a lab for analysis.

Side Effects of Dilation and Curettage (D&C)

You may experience some cramping after this procedure, especially if your doctor used suction as well as scraping with the curette to remove uterine tissue. You may also experience light spotting or bleeding and nausea/vomiting (if you’ve had general anesthesia).

Over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen will help with any pain from this procedure, and you should talk to your doctor about when it is safe to use tampons and resume sexual activity.

Risks of Dilation and Curettage (D&C)

Dilation and curettage is a safe, minimally invasive procedure. Complications are rare but may include:

  • Damage to the uterus or cervix
  • Blood clots
  • Infection

Signs of more significant damage to the uterus or cervix include:

  • Heaving bleeding
  • Light bleeding that lasts longer than two weeks
  • Fever and/or chills
  • Cramps that last longer than 48 hours
  • Severe pain
  • Foul-smelling discharge

Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of these more serious side effects.