Why it's done

Dilation and curettage can diagnose or treat a uterine condition.

To diagnose a condition

Your doctor might recommend a type of D&C called endometrial sampling to diagnose a condition if:

  • You have abnormal uterine bleeding
  • You experience bleeding after menopause
  • Your doctor discovers abnormal endometrial cells during a routine test for cervical cancer

To perform the test, your doctor collects a tissue sample from the lining of your uterus (endometrium) and sends the sample to a lab for testing. The test can check for:

  • Endometrial hyperplasia — a precancerous condition in which the uterine lining becomes too thick
  • Uterine polyps
  • Uterine cancer

To treat a condition

When performing a therapeutic D&C, your doctor removes the contents from inside your uterus, not just a small tissue sample. Your doctor may do this to:

  • Clear out tissues that remain in the uterus after a miscarriage or abortion to prevent infection or heavy bleeding
  • Remove a molar pregnancy, in which a tumor forms instead of a normal pregnancy
  • Treat excessive bleeding after delivery by clearing out any placenta that remains in the uterus
  • Remove cervical or uterine polyps, which are usually noncancerous (benign)

Your doctor may perform the D&C along with another procedure called a hysteroscopy. During a hysteroscopy, your doctor inserts a slim instrument with a light and camera on the end into your vagina, through your cervix and up into your uterus.

Your doctor then views the lining of your uterus on a screen, noting any areas that look abnormal, making sure there aren't any polyps and taking tissue samples as needed. During a hysteroscopy, your doctor can also remove uterine polyps and fibroid tumors.

Oct. 26, 2016
References
  1. Frequently asked questions. Special procedures FAQ062. Dilation and curettage. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Dilation-and-Curettage-DandC. Accessed Aug. 9, 2016.
  2. Stovall DW. Dilation and curettage. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 9, 2016.
  3. Pfenninger JL, et al. Dilation and curettage. In: Pfenninger & Fowler's Procedures for Primary Care. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier Mosby; 2011. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Aug. 9, 2016.
  4. DeCherney AH, et al. Therapeutic gynecologic procedures. In: Current Diagnosis & Treatment Obstetrics & Gynecology. 11th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2013. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed Aug. 9, 2016.
  5. Lemmers M, et al. Dilatation and curettage increases the risk of subsequent preterm birth: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Human Reproduction. 2016;31:34.
  6. Sedation, analgesia and anesthesia. American Society of Anesthesiologists. https://www.asahq.org/resources/patients/patient-education-brochures. Accessed Aug. 9, 2016.