What is Dilation and Curettage (D & C) Surgery?
A dilation and curettage procedure involves dilating the cervix and scraping some of the endometrium (uterine lining) with a curette to remove any abnormal tissue.
The cervix forms the neck of the uterus, and the vagina is the canal through which conception and birth take place.
The endometrium is a soft lining that protects the fetus during pregnancy.
Reasons for having a D and C vary. Most D and C’s are performed because the patient has complained of unusually heavy menstrual bleeding.
Other common problems include, uterine infection, bleeding after sexual intercourse, incomplete miscarriage or the presence of polyps – small pieces of extra tissue growing on the inside of the uterine wall.
To perform a D and C, your doctor needs unobstructed access to your uterus, so your feet will be raised, separated and placed in canvas slings – holding your legs in a position much like that position used during a routine gynecological exam.
To begin, the genital area is swabbed with an antiseptic solution and sterile towels are draped around until only the vulva is exposed.
Then the surgeon will use a gloved hand to conduct a vaginal examination and will check the size and location of the uterus by pressing on your lower abdomen.
A metal or plastic vaginal speculum is used to gently expand the vagina and allow access to the cervix.
Once the cervix is visible, a forcep is used to grasp the front lip of the cervix – causing the uterus to open a little.
Using a blunt-tipped probe, the surgeon carefully measures the length of the uterus and takes a small sample of tissue from the cervical canal.
Next, the surgeon will dilate, or open the cervix, using a series of progressively larger metal rods called dilators.
When the cervix has expanded sufficiently, the doctor will use a spoon-shaped instrument called a curette to gently scrape out the lining of the uterus.
When the entire lining of the uterus has been removed, the instruments are withdrawn.
The tissue removed will then be sent to a laboratory for analysis.